Ways (Not) to Deal with Social Nihilism

There is one way to deal with the evident fraud of a supersystem that will never reform or reconstitute itself- to become a self-styled genius, a skeptic of the crank variety, a self-ennobler high above the fray of the fallen world. This a tiresome, endlessly complaining fount, and can be seen in full blog glory on many doomer or contrarian or pedant sites, often in full misanthropic wail in the comments section. No one is listening to me! Everybody is stupid! How dare anyone criticize my criticism! The universe laughs, because of the following conditions.
1. No one gets a medal for “seeing things more clearly” than other folks. The social world is not going to give the MacArthur prize to anyone privileged by fate to be the clear-eyed seer and nascent guru of all.
2. For that reason, all opinions, insights, research, and postings should be done in the spirit of fun and communal solidarity. None of us, through any of our writings or parade marchings or internet petitions or sign holding, possesses anything approaching even a scintilla of social impact. Humans become locked into strong, evidence-denying thought systems and social control systems. “Change” can often turn into the worst sort, or can move slowly, superficially, when the problems demand massive, inter-institutional redesign.
3. For those who see the social devastation wrought by climate change, economic inequality, or insanely-bloated and murderous militarism, paths toward specious uplift are as well-worn and inviting as the other paths that invite humans to be monontheistic dullards or money-grubbing rich skinflints or artistic burners-on-high fictionists.

One such ersatz path is offered by a check-cashing member of the professoriate and her aspiring student, in a paper on “hope,” that now fully-discredited word (the Obamacon) in the Anthropocene (http://susannemoser.com/documents/Moser-Berzonsky_Hopeinthefaceofclimatechange_reviewdraft_6-24-15.pdf).
While noting that any sane, moderately-informed person should be waking up with “despair” and “grief” and assorted social nihilism, the two authors, needing to have students who do not run screaming from them, posit that all of us should have a worldview that
“includes truth-telling about one’s own despair and coming back
to full commitment to the world in the future.”
Art, religion, and academia specialize in assertions made using language that can never be defined. What the hell could a “full commitment” to the world possibly be?
This would be the definition of insanity, and lead straight off the cliff of human life. The world demands partial disengagement. Social horrors of our time, and in the knowable future, will be differentially experienced: some will get granite countertops in their dual bathrooms, others will be flooded out of their homes within the borders of the world’s richest country.
Oh, but there is a way to have this be absorbed by the tuition-driven fraud of higher education. Go sit in a classrom, and you will, according to Moser and Berzonsky, find
“a ‘realistic dream’ that inspires: it depicts – in real places, some version of a clean and resilient future, socially connected, culturally alive, and filled with dignity, mutuality, and justice.”

There are no such things as “realistic dreams,” and there will not be that utopia that the fantasists wish to mesmerize you with, so that you’ll keep paying tuition. Or signing up for blogs. Sorry – there is no escape into any delusions, meditations, or alternative medicine that will deliver transfer into beatified awareness as social reality gets further corrupted. Human life, with its metacognitive dimensions and attendant vanities, is a difficult, preposterous condition, but it’s what we’ve got, as individuals and as a species, so best to “celebrate our differences” or “speak truth to power” or “be the change,” or, instead, to follow social nihilism: dip into absurdia, use social media in only a limited fashion, drink ’em if you’ve got ’em (and can stay away from addictive substances), let kids be kids, spend some money on good stuff, and get outside.when you can.

1 Comment

  1. 23% of Americans, according to a Harris poll, say religion is “not at all important to them.” That’s a damn good figure.
    “God” seems to be your placebo, like homeopathy or Pokemon Go.
    Across the world, though, billions of humans were fervently hoping that he/she/it had something to say to them, but not one person got so much as a verifiable sound. Sad.

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