American Affairs Journal: Vanguard of Conservative Socialism?

Aside from the ARPLAN Blog, there is another intellectual publication that I also subscribe to. American Affairs, a quarterly journal, is known for articles related to manufacturing, trade, infrastructure and social issues from a distinctly non-Jeffersonian form of thought. The type of Conservatism espoused by its editor, Julius Krein, and some of its authors are geared toward Hamiltonian Federalism, specifically its reintroduction into American political discourse. After having read a decent majority of its articles over the last two years, I am fully convinced that Krein and the other authors are worthy of mention here. What compels me to recommend American Affairs is the fact that its articles and my own writings share a recurring theme. In essence, it is the belief that a new ideology can be created out of aspects of American Conservatism and American Socialism, an “American Conservative Socialism” whose definitions of Conservatism and Socialism are both derived from the same Hamiltonian Federalist political tradition.

The publication history of American Affairs, I feel, cannot be separated from the circumstances that led to Krein founding it. Krein is one of those Americans who never truly felt at home with the “American Right” any more than the “American Left” or even the “American Center.” From what I could gather, he is an American Conservative critical of the Liberal Capitalist ethos that has plagued American Conservatism since the Cold War. He recognized that Donald Trump, like Bernie Sanders, represented a growing disillusionment with Liberal Capitalism. And while he would later go on to dissociate himself from Trumpism, Krein was nevertheless correct about the need for an American Conservatism that resonates with American Socialism. For him, the exact form that this “Conservative Socialism” should take is still open to debate (and I do have my disagreements), but there are certain general points of agreement where I can see my own views being espoused by some of the articles in American Affairs.     

Where do my views align with those of Krein and his publication? I can summarize them as the preconditions to which this Conservative Socialism could become a political reality:

  • American Conservatism should abandon its Anti-Statist tendencies, recognition that the Federal government as the key driver of the US national economy, and promotion of an ethos of strong families and close-knit communities.   
  • American Socialism should serve the American people as a Totality, advocate opposition against Free Trade and Open Borders out of concern for the Arbeiter, and rejection of the petty divisiveness of identity politics in favor of the Class Struggle.
  • Consolidating American Conservatism and American Socialism is a “Federalist Nationalism,” its political legacy and tradition drawn from Hamiltonian Federalism. This Federalist Nationalism will be a genuine opposition to the Jeffersonian Empire of Liberty in both its Internationalist and Isolationist tendencies.

A central argument found throughout many articles is the belief that the “Political Left,” “Political Right,” and “Political Center” within American politics do not have the Union’s true interests at heart. In fact, there is even the argument that all three have more in common with Jeffersonianism, preventing them from being capable of fostering Hamiltonianism. This is a theme that I had touched on in my own observations of American politics, both in The Work-Standard and elsewhere. Furthermore, there are a few articles in American Affairs where certain authors such as Michael Lind have advocated for “Corporatism” as a form of political governance for the US.  

The type of Corporatism proposed by American Affairs is interesting insofar as the description runs the whole gamut from Social-Democratic Tripartism to some variation of “Social Corporatism” that is distinguishable from the State Corporatist model found in the PRC and Fascist Italy. Regardless of which version reflects the authors’ consensus, the argument is that Jeffersonian Parliamentary Democracy should be overcome by Corporatism. This is probably where I draw the line in terms of disagreements because I am a proponent of Council Democracy as a more suitable alternative to Parliamentary Democracy. If it is possible for Corporatism to coexist with Council Democracy, it will be a political phenomenon that has yet to be fully realized into something tangible and not just something existing on paper.

Overall, I do find myself in agreement with a sizeable majority of viewpoints found in American Affairs. Advocacy of an American Conservatism more in line with Hamiltonian Federalism is only the first step toward the development of Conservative Socialism. When it comes to specific policy details, like what forms should the Federal government or the US economy assume, that is where I will defer to the conclusions which I had reached in The Work-Standard. Despite all of the disagreements, I still find American Affairs to be a worthwhile read.     

Categories: Politics

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