A new word has been making its way around reactionary circles lately, and that word is “based”. As used in this arena, it is an adjective that describes a character type, as in “That fellow I met yesterday appears to be rather based”. But what might this unusual bit of slang mean? What is being “based”?
Let us start with a depressing truth: most people (and, it must be said, especially most women) do not have a fixed point of morality. Most people’s morality lies more or less where the surrounding group sets it, or at least, within a range that is defined as acceptable by their society. This range is referred to as the “Overton Window”, and individuals set their personal morality at some point within it that fits their natural temperament.
As depressing as this might be, it seems at least straightforward enough. In a healthy society that has decent morals, it’s even a positive thing. Human nature does require some restraints on it, and as most people cannot come up with a moral system that puts acceptable restraints on their human nature entirely on their own, it is for the best that those restraints are at least partially applied from without, both via explicit statutes and via customs enforced by social pressure. Things are never quite so easy in Modernity, however. We live in unusual times, highly ideological times; times dominated by the fanatical utopian cult of egalitarian leftism, which makes the personal political and the political universal. This cult believes itself to be pushing humanity forward towards a paradise upon the Earth, and in service of this has adopted an unspoken, but very real policy of Permanent Revolution, in which, in order to prevent regress away from paradise, the Overton Window must be ceaselessly in motion, towards the ideas that they believe will bring their paradise about. This is what Mencius Moldbug meant when he said that “Cthulhu may swim slowly. But he only swims left”. And as it steadily moves ever farther-leftward, it drags the mainstream conservative movement behind it, and even the right moves left. This is why it has so often been noted that mainstream conservatism is simply the liberalism of fifty, or even just twenty years ago.
But how does the leftist cult accomplish this?
It does it primarily through a historical quirk of Modernity. In the pre-Modern age, the cultural, moral, and spiritual touchstones that most people had were friends, family, and a Church whose face was a local priest who probably grew up in town and whose family one knew. These common touchstones gave people their social cues and provided them with their cultural, moral, and spiritual instruction, both formal and (mostly) informal; it told them what was right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable. And these touchstones were all immediate, local, personal, tangible.
But Modernity changed that. The atomization of city life, the formalization of institutions, and the development of mass media provided new cultural, moral, and spiritual touchstones like television and mass government schooling (including – especially – the modern university system). Whereas the old touchstones were local, personal, and tangible, these new touchstones were centralized, impersonal, and distant. Television, for example, is made in New York and Hollywood, by people who most of those who watch it have never met and never will, controlled by cartel of a relatively small number of media companies who march in cultural, moral, and spiritual lockstep. This institutionalized system was always ripe for takeover by group of bright, ambitious, and ruthless people like the cult of egalitarian leftism. Saul Alinsky knew this, and advocated the takeover of institutions like these; a takeover which in the West has been so successful and so complete that it is now simply in its mopping-up phase. Having done this, it can now manufacture consent for whatever it likes simply by altering what messages the touchstones they control deliver, and presenting those ideas as normalcy. This starts a chain reaction – it exerts tremendous social pressure on those who take their cues and instruction from it, who in turn exert tremendous social pressure on those who are mildly less susceptible to the message until they conform out of desire to not go against the group, and so on and so on, until finally the last stragglers are dragged along behind the group.
But you knew all this. Of course you did, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. So what does all this have to do with being “based”?
What it has to do with it is this: Beyond a certain point, the ability to question the message emanating from cultural touchstones, resist social pressure, and defy the group (in genuine ways, not in the manner of the sort of safely prepackaged rebellion available at your local Hot Topic) is not so much a matter of political, philosophical, or even religious beliefs, but is simply a function of personality type. In the face of the historically unprecedented ability to manufacture consent and social pressure present in the mass media age, this personality type will necessarily be both very strong and quite rare.
The primary characteristic of this personality type is that it is highly antisocial. In a healthy society, that is an undesirable personality trait, but in a world turned upside-down, it becomes a positive one. Here we must be specific: “antisocial” does not mean psychopathic, nor even sociopathic. It means intellectually and emotionally self-reliant introversion, a deep distrust of herd mentality, and an exceptionally low need for social approval from the group. It is only this specific personality type – the intellectually curious antisocial introvert, who takes his cues primarily from himself and from what he has found that he has judged personally to be true, and who has an extreme degree of real (not affected) resistance to social pressure of all types, who will be able to resist having his morality set by the group, which in Modernity means by the cartel that controls the cultural touchstones which in turn control the values of the group. This personality type is inborn and intrinsic to an individual; it may be strengthened by personal experiences, but it cannot be forged by them alone.
This – having this specific personality type, no matter how wide the variation in its individual expression – is what it means to be “based”.
And it squares perfectly with my personal experience of the neoreactionaries I have met (both online and in person) as being, more or less, a group of high-IQ, antisocial introverts with a strong disposition towards eccentricity. Which means that neoreaction is, as much as it is anything else, a personality type.
This is a critical point, because, just as in the movie that gave us this metaphor, the “Red Pill” won’t work for everybody. Even if you give it to them, many people won’t be able to handle it; they’ll reject it because they’re not psychologically ready to accept it. They’re not ready to discard what the group has given them, to buck the system that badly, to resist intense social pressure and live outside the approval of the group. Thus, what the group believes they too must believe – they must stay within the Overton Window, even if it’s at the end of it that’s being dragged along last.
To accept the Red Pill – to really, fully accept it – you’ve got to be based. And that’s something that either comes naturally or it doesn’t: you can’t fake it, you can’t affect it, you can’t adopt it, you can’t learn it – either you have it, either you are it, or not.
So, before you go any further, you had best all ask yourselves – are you based?