Oberlin is a place of intense energy and creativity, built on a foundation of academic, artistic, musical excellence. With its longstanding commitments to access, diversity, inclusion, Oberlin is the ideal laboratory in which to study and design the world we want.
Last month I tried to develop some ideas about the way that liberals understand individuality (e.g. here). One part of my argument concerns human nature. We traditionalists accept aspects of human nature that are rejected by liberals, such as masculinity and femininity. We tend to think of ourselves as having a more comprehensive and realistic account of human nature than liberals.
And this belief is justified. However, there does exist one aspect of human nature that liberals do accept and focus on, namely the "creative spirit" aspect of our nature. Liberals express this creative spirit when they emphasise individuality as a creative unfolding of self; when they value the achievement of being self-made; when they reject (formally at least) convention; when they set out to shape the world after their own design; and when they look toward human progress.
That particular focus does bring some advantages to liberalism. It will tend to attract those who have an energy and commitment to making real world changes; who have a degree of idealism about social activism; and who will express themselves in idealistic language as being socially committed.
We need to take some of this ground for ourselves. That's one reason I'm not keen on labels such as "reactionary" or "curmudgeon" (there are even problems with "traditionalist" and "conservative"). We need to incorporate the creative spirit into our own politics, by bringing out the way that our politics serves individuality (as the creative unfolding of self) and contributes to the progress of human societies.
Look at the way that Oberlin markets itself. It is appealing to the creative spirit that I have tried to describe: "a place of intense energy and creativity" and "the ideal laboratory in which to study and design the world we want."
We should try to combine our own political advantages (a less abstract, detached and individualistic understanding of the human personality) with those of liberalism (a focus on creative energy, social activism and taking things forward).