1585 FAQ

I know nobody reads these, and I don't care.

Q:  What was the inspiration for 1585?

A:  Although the founders of this site are quote-unquote “Liberals” — in the sense that we are a part of the political Left, even though we do not subscribe to every single belief that is typically described as “liberal” — we noticed that people often assumed we were Conservatives, and we wondered why this was.  Eventually, we realized that it was because we share many personality traits with the average Conservative:  we enjoy arguing; we believe that we are objectively right and others are objectively wrong; we believe that we are awesome and that everyone who doesn’t like us is just jealous; we tend to like “old” things when it comes to music, movies, etc.; and in terms of Art we prioritize the talent of the Artist over the “social value” of the work.  Now, it occurred to us that none of these things is a political belief exactly — they are only personality traits — and based on this we realized that, for many people, the terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” signify personality types as much as (or even more so than) they signify sets of beliefs.  1585 is for people who identify with the personalities of Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons, Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, or Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties, but do not share many (or any) of their Right-wing beliefs.  The name 1585 refers to this personality/belief division, and signifies “15% Conservative, 85% Liberal.”

Q:  Is 1585 a Third Party?

A:  Absolutely not!  Political parties are organizations for people who share the same beliefs, and 1585 is in large part a personality thing.  In fact, we are firmly against the confusion of personality types with systems of belief, and so it would be hypocritical of us to identify ourselves as a Third Party.  And besides, there would be no point in doing so, since 1585s currently back the Democrats when it comes to who to vote for (although a big part of the site involves discussing why we find certain types of Democrats annoying, so there’s a good chance that Republicans will enjoy the site too).  We said currently a moment ago because it’s important to remember that political parties are not sports teams, where you root for “your team” all your life, in good times and bad — a political party is only as good as its current leaders and current positions on the issues, and which party is “right” goes back and forth, depending on what the issues are.  If it were 1860 or 1904 we would be Republicans, but it’s not—and currently 1585s believe that the Democrats are more right (or, if you prefer, less wrong) than the Republicans are.

Q:  So, if you’re basically Liberals, where does the “15% Conservative” come in? Why not 100% Liberal?

A:  An extremely important question, and one that we want to be very clear in answering.  From our own point of view, we have no conservative beliefs whatsoever.  We do, however, have some beliefs that other people erroneously consider to be conservative (so, if you identify yourself as a Conservative, you might have more in common with us than you think), and so, in the interest of opening up a dialogue, we named ourselves based on how we would be perceived by most other people, rather than after how we perceive ourselves.  So we don’t want to see anyone coming at us from the Left saying “Well, we’re 100% liberal, so screw you, sell-out!”  In the sense that you mean it, we are also 100% liberal — meaning that we do not actually agree with any current Republican positions on the major issues.  We are not “compromising,” nor are we “selling out.”  It’s just that we noticed whenever we hear Conservatives talk about why they hate “Liberals,” it’s always stuff that doesn’t apply to us — it’s always personality stuff.  Go look at the jokes about “Liberals” on any conservative website and they’re all about people who don’t shower or people with no work ethic or fat women who are always mad or something — but those aren’t beliefs (they’re also not even accurate jokes; the vast majority of fat women — and fat men — are actually Conservatives).  We are 100% liberal in our positions, but we’re annoyed by many of the same types of people that Conservatives say they’re annoyed by (I suppose we could have called ourselves “Badass Liberals” or something, but that sounds a little juvenile).  We agree with the average Conservative, for example, about the fact that neohippies are annoying — it’s just that we don’t see why that means we should be racist or sexist or anti-gay.  Why punish other people just because your English Professor is annoying?  Besides, lots of types of people on both sides are annoying — we bet if you had to go to school with a bunch of dudes who were in the KKK, they would be pretty fucking annoying too.  We have met many people who call themselves Republicans even though they secretly agree with the Democrats on most issues, because they don’t want the assumptions to be made about their personalities that come along with calling yourself a “Liberal.”  Now, those people can call themselves 1585s — problem solved!  (NOTE: those who have no problem self-applying the term “Liberal” are cheerfully encouraged to refer to themselves as “1585 Liberals,” but we do not condone combining the terms “1585” and “Conservative”—if that’s your speed, then you are probably actually a “South Park Republican.”)

Q:  As long as you brought it up, in what ways are 1585s ideologically distinct from the guys who do South Park?

A:  An excellent question.  We here at the site all think it’s an incredibly funny show (except when it's not), and that the guys who do it are really perceptive social critics — we just don’t always agree with their conclusions.  A lot of the time, they end up doing this thing where they basically admit that the Liberals have their facts straight more so than the Conservatives do, but then conclude by seeing the tendency of the Liberals to act “smug” or “superior” as a bigger problem than the tendency of the Conservatives to be… well, wrong.  It kind of turns into this high-school “well, no-one cares that you’re right, because you’re a nerd” type of thing, and we think that’s at best silly, and at worst dangerous.  That being said, maybe they're not always trying to be right.  They've said themselves that they're primarily comedians, so probably in a situation where they can either be less right and more funny or more right and less funny, the go with the former, whereas we would go the other way.  Overall, we think the show has been more beneficial to American society than harmful — certainly it's been responsible for showing a lot of young people that you can be really funny and make a complex point at the same time — but in recent years honestly that's been a close call, since they've been doing more and more stuff that we really found problematic.  We don't know what Parker and Stone's plans for the future are — that may get better, or it may get worse.  We’ll probably do a whole article about South Park at some point in the future.

Q:  Are 1585s anti-Feminist?

A:  Absolutely not!  We have enormous respect for the Feminist movement and identify ourselves as Feminists.  It’s just that we think that many of the problems the Left is currently struggling with are traceable back to flaws in Feminist Theory — the condemnation of the concept of objective truth, for example, or the disdain for all types of power, even the good kinds.  This is, of course, totally understandable, since Feminism has been one of the most prominent — if not the most prominent — subphilosophies of the Left for a long time now.  If you’re a starter who always stays in the whole game, of course you have a bigger chance of making errors than someone who hardly plays — but you’ll also do a bunch of good things too, because that’s why you were a starter to begin with.  And even though there are many Feminist writers, theorists, and media figures whom we absolutely hate, 1585s never use the dumb-ass term “feminazi” no matter how much someone pisses us off, because there are also many Feminist writers, theorists, and media figures whom we absolutely love.  Rather than use that dumb-ass term, find a more creative and specific way to express your opposition, and make it clear that your opposition is not to Feminism as a whole, but rather that you are a different type of Feminist.

Q:  Okay, I’m curious — what are these beliefs that other people think are conservative but that actually aren’t?

A:  They aren’t so much beliefs as beliefs about beliefs.  For example, we take a very hard line on the definitions of truth and falsehood: certain things are true and other things are false, and if you believe the true things you’re smart, and if you believe the false things you’re dumb, and that’s it.  You put something that way and everyone thinks you’re a Conservative, but the “true things” we have in mind are all liberal.  There are some specific beliefs that are kind of un-liberal, like how we believe that human nature is essentially selfish and not very honorable, but unlike Conservatives, we don’t use that as an excuse to give up and not even try to fix things.  Plus, we believe that most of the ways people are, they are for genetic reasons instead of social ones; people think that's conservative for some reason.  Oh, and we love Freud; people think that's conservative too, even though he did more to create the contemporary Left than basically anyone.  Mainly, we don’t like how Liberals have been painted into this corner where all they can do is disagree with the Conservative stuff but not propose anything solid of their own to put in its place.  This has happened because liberalism has become way too afraid to ever tell anyone that they’re wrong — instead, they only tell people that they’re being mean, and that’s not the same thing.  When our old football coach was pissed at us, he used to arrange a scrimmage with another school and put us on “permanent defense,” where the other team had the ball the whole time.  And that’s what’s happened to the Liberals lately — they’re on permanent defense.  Even if you’re really good at disproving other stuff, you also have to prove something of your own if you want to win, and you can’t score if you believe it’s immoral to have possession of the ball.  The Left has been afraid to say that anything is objectively true, because they associate the acknowledgement of objective truth with religious zealotry.  The Left-wing version of the God-concept is what we call UREG.  In short, it’s the belief that no-one is any better at anything than anyone else, which is so outlandish and unsupportable a concept that it qualifies as a religion.  There is no way to believe it except on faith — it cannot be a conclusion based on examination of evidence, because there is no evidence that could possibly lead to this conclusion.  In fact, it can be flatly disproved.  We were once arguing with a Liberal who said that no-one is naturally better than anyone else at anything, and that everyone just gets good by practicing and experience.  So we brought up something that we thought was pretty basic — running speed.  We said, well, some people are naturally faster than others, right?  Little kids don’t work out or anything, but if you got a bunch of little kids and had them race, you don’t think they would all be exactly the same speed, right?  And she said yes, she did!  She was seriously arguing that all kids are exactly as fast as one another, which is clearly objectively false.  That really scared us.

Q:  So you’re basically anti-Panglossians? 

A:  Well, yes we are, but what we were just describing is different.  Panglossians accept what is true or not true, and then come up with reasons why it’s all good; UREGs invent their own versions of reality and then come up with reasons for why they must be the case—it’s a difference between making excuses for problems vs. denying that they exist in the first place.

Q:  Okay, I'll try again.  So the deal is that you're traditionalists, but you're more left-wing traditionalists than right-wing ones?

A:  Yeah, that's better.  There's kind of this trend among Liberals now where they have to believe that everything that used to be true has to stop being true at some point, and that's just stupid.  If there's really a problem with something, then yes, definitely, change it, but don't feel like you have to change everything every 20 years just for the sake of changing it.  At some point, when you do that, it becomes about you instead of society — about showing how you could think up something new.  A lot of that is probably related to the fact that, in academia, you have to publish X amount of shit every year or you don't get tenure, so there's this constant pressure to invent problems where there aren't any.  There are a lot of problems, certainly, but most of them have already been noticed, so it's like “I can't write about the real problems, because other people already did, so I'll make up some bullshit one.”  Newton figured out that Force equals Mass times Acceleration in 1687, but that doesn't somehow stop being true just because a lot of time has gone by.

Q:  Actually, that precise equation is a synthesis of Newton's 2nd and 3rd Laws of Motion, and wasn't expressed in that specific form until after his death, although it can still accurately be said that he was the one who first distilled it.

A:  Yeah, we knew that, but that's our whole point: you can put something a different way, so more people can understand it, but it's the same basic shit.  And you certainly don't have to act like you're pissed at the guy who put it the first way.  One of us once got called a Conservative by this guy in a bar just because he didn't agree that the greatest poet of the 20th Century was Bob Dylan. That was some bullshit.  We mean, we love Dylan, but the greatest poet of the 20th Century was Yeats, sorry.  And this guy got pissed, and he probably didn't even know shit about Yeats.  He was just pissed because we named someone who wrote actual books instead of a pop singer, and that has jackshit to do with Liberal and Conservative!  It just seems like you need a certain amount of the conservative impulse in you in order to stay an effective Liberal—otherwise you get so liberal that you out-liberal yourself.  We met this one girl who said she votes Republican just because women are expected to be Democrats and she's offended by the idea of women being expected to do something.  Do you see what the deal is there?  She was a Liberal, and then got so wrapped up in the whole automatically-contrarian thing that she literally became a Conservative because she got so liberal that she always had to do the opposite of what people expected her to do, even if that thing was being liberal itself.  Anyway, everyone's nuts now, except us.

read more awesome 1585 essays.

like and follow The 1585 on Facebook.

blog comments powered by Disqus