Social nihilism should dedicate itself to the titular question, in a fast, profound, yet casual way.
Of course the world is a shitty place. Social reality is dominated by shitty social reality. In an Information Age, the revelations of how shitty the human social world (we’ll retire the epithet for a little while) is, can be, and will be, is being documented in every more colorful ways. Netflix documentaries can show you how horrible poverty can be, across the globe, from the Punjab region of India with its fetid polluting tanneries, to southern Mexico with its compulsive poverty-driven drug killings.
And the human social world is not going to get better. This realization will hurt as much the first understanding. The idea of Progress, of human civilization being a relatively new project going through growing pains on the way to more fabulous, I.G.Y.- level of bounteous social harmony across the fruited plains, died back in the 80’s, and yet this vision of a manipulable, governable political superstructure lingers on in the dreams of the non-readers and fantasists who are the vast majority of people. Or the truth of the desperate predicaments interwoven into our various social institutional realities could be understood by humans at the gut level, which is why so many of them are sick, addicted, bilious, or religiously afflicted.
Those that cling to a folkish, credulous, advertiser-driven mirage of democratic capitalist progress can lay their bodies on the line for the supersystem, finding jobs and comforting lies within the well-paying hierarchical jobs of the corporate, legal, medical, military, and more military establishment crime syndicates. Others, by constitution or cultural shaping or poor birth, could not lower themselves to join the rat race, and have much worse economic circumstances to show for it.
Back in the 60’s, when the government and corporations had to fear the righteous opposition of a few segments of youth, the supersystem permitted a slice of them to become designated as “conscientious objectors,” and in lieu of sending them to jail for five years, or harassing them into becoming exiles in Canada, they could, with the most condescending and ham-fisted of authoritarian diktat, become the lowest level of non-military workers – hospital orderlies emptying shit pans, “teachers” in the chaos corridors of the American urban bantustans. They were officially scorned, ostracized into the lowest and most humiliating of service work, but at least they could claim ethical and moral superiority, not being blown up or blowing others up for genocidal reasons.
Those jobs still exist, and few COs still exist, not religious believers like the government of the 60’s forced the COs of that era to declare themselves, but conscientious objectors to the greater institutional ruling structures of this era of the supersystem: against the legal world of enforced tyranny from the corporate side; against the military colossus; against the academic-corporate snake oil charade; against privatized medicine; against the rancid tech monstrosities of “social media.” Against this , against that , but where do these modern-day COs go to derive a paycheck? A vow of poverty and non-collusion with a corrupt empire goes nowhere for a social animal such as humans, but where do the malcontents go to keep the bills paid, while they fake acquiescence to the demands of the rat race?
Somedays, they go to the open air of WordPressland. Almost always they stay out of the boss’s office, but they stay out of their co-workers’ stupid caviling, too. What awaits these COs? A shitty social world, getting worse. Their conscience is cleaned daily, however, by the force of nihilistic knowledge, and they find pleasure in good old-fashioned inherited, hypocritical illusions. A hamburger. A football game. The inexorable pulls of time and social circumstance. They may be the conscientious objectors of our time, but they will never be social constructors.