I usually just start Visual Studio, create a project, import some NuGet packages and off I go.
(No, that wasn't a "my framework/platform is better"-rant - JVM IDEs + Maven can do essentially the same thing)
Point is, I don't even know what autoconf is, and I like to keep it that way.
Only a tiny fraction of us have to make Node/Java/.NET/Ruby+Rails+Rack+etc. All the rest can just go and solve problems. These tools really do abstract away from accumulated platform complexity. They add a little on their own (like $NODE_PATH), but that's on the platform level too, the level i don't care about anyway. I have npm, you know.
On a platform-related side note: if you're not using UNIX then it's going to be pretty hard to run into the described issues. When you go with a proprietary developer platform like Visual Studio you are outsourcing a lot of little headaches to Microsoft whose job it becomes to make your life easier. The problem is if Microsoft decides to drop their clue off in the weeds somewhere you have to either start writing pleading letters to Ballmer or make a huge jump to some other platform. In UNIX you suffer a steady string of little headaches, but you have the open source ecosystem to back you up, so with enough persistence there is almost nothing that you can't solve.
I know I'm not doing system programming. My point is that a very small minority of programmers is doing system programming. And if you're not part of that minority, software isn't at all as bad as Dahl describes. In fact, it got super many enablers for free, without many corresponding headaches, over the last 10 years or so. There are a lot of real decent high level tools.
Most of the Java ecosystem is open source, btw, and it has comparably easy high level tools as Visual Studio / .NET. Eclipse and NetBeans are real decent and open source, and so are Maven and all tooling for the cool JVM languages (i.e. not Java). I don't think my point applies to proprietary platforms like .NET only.
In fact Node is quickly becoming an equally cool platform. Big load of open source libraries, robust and dependable core engine, thriving community, excellent package management, etc. Nothing there to hate.
I daresay Ryan Dahl hates software for us so we don't have to.