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The American South: Regional Development Strategies in Global Context

p. 35-48


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1Much like their more recent counterparts in nations pursuing greater integration into the global economy, those charged with bringing the southern states into the American economic mainstream in the wake of the devastation of the Civil War saw few options other than an innately self-limiting – though purportedly only temporary – development strategy of exploiting their region’s relative underdevelopment. With its enormous pool of surplus or superfluous labor, abundant raw materials and natural resources, and an unyielding commitment to minimal taxation and government involvement, the postbellum “New South” offered profound savings in industrial operating costs compared to the more developed states of the Northeast and emergent Industrial Midwest. In reality, however, for most large-scale investors, the higher operating costs associated with these areas could easily be discounted against the very real prospect of speedy and handsome returns from the rapidly expanding and highly profitable enterprises on the frontlines of America’s industrial revolution. Thus, as historian David Carlton noted, the struggling southern economy “had to coexist, within national boundaries, with a well-developed industrial region which could provide strong competition [for capital] for any southern ‘infant industry’ requiring a skilled labor force and experienced entrepreneurs.” Substantial investments in these more dynamic enterprises might have dramatically accelerated the South’s move toward economic integration with the rest of the nation. Unable to secure these funds externally, however, development leaders had to rely heavily on risk-averse local investors whose exceedingly meager resources largely limited industrial expansion to small-scale rudimentary, low-value-added manufacturing operations offering returns that were reasonably secure but much too low to generate additional economic expansion and momentum.1

2As I have noted elsewhere, viewed in a global context over time, societies with an appetite for economic modernization seem to confront not a fixed menu but a cafeteria line. Although not all the offerings are adaptable to the tastes or budgets of all would-be diners, ironically enough, the later one arrives at the serving line, the more development options that are available. Arriving at the modernization buffet near the end of the nineteenth century, the South encountered a variety of possibilities, but its severely limited capital resources at this point ultimately dictated a fairly mundane set of selections that had actually been on the table for quite a while. Prominent among these entrees was the textile industry, which was available at bargain prices and well suited for a region where cheap, eager labor was in such abundance. On the other hand, however, situated near the trailing edge of the American manufacturing economy, the textile industry’s major technological and production advances were largely behind it by the turn of the twentieth century, and hence, it was unlikely to generate the pressures for investments in education or inventive or experimental activities that might have paid off in terms of pulling more high-energy industrial capital into the region.2

3Thus, the South was left to shuffle along behind, gradually picking up the wage-sensitive firms priced out of the labor market in the North and effectively blown out the tailpipe of the still-accelerating northern industrial economy. After the economic collapse of the 1930s threatened not only to halt, but to roll back their plodding industrial advance, southern states and communities moved to sweeten their low-wage appeals with promises of tax exemptions and/or free or extremely cheap buildings financed by low-interest municipal bonds. Although designed to make southern communities more financially attractive to industrialists, subsidy programs largely confirmed the prevailing pattern of development based on competitive, labor-intensive industries because such operations, attracted to the South initially by their need to save on labor costs, were also the ones most likely to be swayed by an opportunity to save on construction and tax costs as well.3

4At some point, any strategy for interregional economic convergence that is predicated on maintaining comparatively low wages becomes comparable to trying to jump from point A to point B by covering no more than half the remaining distance with each leap. Hence, proponents of this strategy felt compelled to offer periodic assurances that the South would soon achieve the self-sustaining economic momentum and mass that would allow it to abandon its self-limiting efforts to keep wages, taxes, and other corporate expenditures artificially low.

5Surely, if the southern states were ever going to be able to curtail their giveaways to hosiery and underwear plants fleeing New Jersey and call off the local law enforcement personnel charged with cracking the skulls of union organizers, this oft-promised tomorrow seemed very much at hand at the end of World War II, which did more to alter the course and pace of southern economic development than any event since the Civil War. The war’s greatest contribution was funneling a huge helping of federal money into a region long starved for capital. More than $ 4 billion went into military facilities and perhaps as much as $ 5 billion more into defense plants during the war. The result was a whopping 40 percent expansion of the South’s industrial capacity and a 20 percent increase in manufacturing employment between 1940 and 1945 alone. Per capita income tripled during the 1940s, leaving southerners, at long last, with enough disposable income to make them attractive to market-oriented industries that had previously found the South’s consuming capacity too puny to justify locating more than a smattering of production or distribution facilities in the region. Automobile assembly and parts plants, for example, began to spring up in and around Atlanta as executives recognized the growing potential of the southeastern market for cars.4

6By 1960 the trends set in motion by World War II had left their imprint. Mechanization and consolidation of cotton production had actually begun in earnest in the 1930s with the New Deal’s acreage-reduction programs, and the civilian and military manpower demands of the war effort greatly accelerated this process. Between 1940 and 1960 the South’s population had shifted from 65 percent rural to 58 percent urban or metropolitan. In the latter year only 10 percent of the population still earned their living in agriculture, while 21 percent worked in manufacturing.5

7With the South’s rapidly mechanizing agricultural sector disgorging thousands of farm laborers and its consumer markets enhanced dramatically by World War II, the southern states effectively doubled down on their commitment to industrial expansion. Determined not to surrender their substantial wartime economic gains, public officials strengthened and extended their development programs, and more state and local leaders became involved. The governor became the state’s super-salesman, and no gubernatorial aspirant dared to neglect economic development as a campaign pledge, especially as these efforts appeared to give increasing evidence of paying off handsomely. Although the relatively more rapid expansion of the post-World War II era was primarily the result of basic economic considerations related to changes in market and income concentration, it was not hampered in the least by continuing advantages in labor, tax, and other operating costs and the determined efforts of development leaders to emphasize and maintain them.

8Even as the war-born boom stimulated consumer buying power and fueled the South’s gains in manufacturing employment, the wage gap between southern and northern workers actually narrowed only slightly over the 1940s and 1950s. In 1959 average hourly wages for production workers in North Carolina and Mississippi were but 65 percent of those earned by their counterparts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and in some areas of the South with especially heavy concentrations of labor-intensive industries, workers actually lost ground relative to the national norm.6

9As we know, of course, regional economic convergence may be a matter not simply of the laggard region quickening its pace but of the more advanced region slowing down. In this case, as the South was experiencing what seemed to be its long-awaited economic boom, the industrial North was beginning to show definite signs of decay. Mounting labor costs and continuing union pressure, technological obsolescence, and rising levels of international competition were among the considerations that led increasing numbers of industrialists to forego expansion or new investments in northern locations in favor of opening new plants in the South. As investment capital moved out, so did a number of residents, many of whom found new homes and jobs below the Mason-Dixon line.

10Between 1970 and 1976 the South enjoyed a net population gain of nearly 3 million people. In contrast to the past, by the mid-1970s those moving into the region were by and large significantly younger and better educated than the national average. The warmer climate and relatively uncomplicated lifestyle were also pulling in retirees whose fixed incomes made lower living costs important. Overall, by the mid-1970s, the southern economy had grown about 30 percent faster than the national average over the last quarter century, and dramatic increases in white collar jobs suggested that regional income differentials might soon be a thing of the past in much of the metropolitan South.7

11In the wake of World War II, however, many incoming employers had deliberately spread their new plants across the rural countryside, looking to capitalize on cheap and eager labor displaced by the mechanization of southern agriculture. Accordingly, blue-collar wage differentials remained the key selling point for those charged with attracting new industrial payrolls to the region. The South Carolina Department of Commerce bragged consistently that the state’s manufacturing wages were among the nation’s lowest, one of the reasons being a union membership rate of 3.3 percent. North Carolina’s union numbers were equally anemic, and Georgia’s and Virginia’s were not much higher. In the Carolinas, workers who “talked union” were sometimes given a warning before they were fired, sometimes not. On occasion, local developers actually spurned prospective employers who promised to hire large numbers of workers at generous salaries simply because their plants were likely to be unionized. When it was rumored in 1977 that Phillip Morris Tobacco was eager to build a plant near Greenville, S. C., that would employ a well-paid but possibly unionized workforce of 2,500, the state’s governor and other political leaders had little difficulty containing their enthusiasm. Meanwhile, local leaders formed a group openly opposing the move because, as one explained, “the industrial climate of South Carolina is based on non-unionization.” Opponents of the Philip Morris move also included representatives of the French tire maker Michelin, which had been drawn to the Greenville area in 1974 by a combination of tax concessions and the prospect of a union-free operating environment.8

12Prior to the 1960s, like most industrial investments in the South, European capital was concentrated in the extraction and processing of raw materials or other low-value-added, labor-intensive industries. With the rise of a more globally competitive manufacturing economy, however, more front-rank European firms began to express an interest in feasting on the South’s cheaper, non-union labor, while taking advantage of its easy access to dynamic American consumer markets. Sensing an opportunity, by the end of the decade, southern development leaders quickly established dozens of industrial recruitment offices throughout Europe.9

13Many observers seemed to assume that European manufacturers opening plants in the South would simply bring along the labor practices they had maintained back home. Yet although they consistently offered wages noticeably higher than the local average, none of the South’s new foreign employers showed much inclination to lug along the extensive benefits and worker perks that constituted what one German executive called “the social baggage we have back home.” In reality, it was concerns about inflation, tighter labor markets, worker activism, and the recent resurgence of leftist politics in their own back yards that had helped to push them into the beseeching arms of southern development officials in the first place. It certainly did not hurt, of course, that these ultra-accommodating southerners who promised an escape from such headaches also showed up with huge goody bags bulging with financial and other enticements. Another incentive for European industrial investment in the South came in 1971 when the Nixon administration took steps to reverse a massive U. S. trade deficit by devaluing the dollar and simultaneously imposing a 10 percent surcharge on imported manufactures. At that point, industrial investments in the United States became all but irresistible. It was, exulted a jubilant British banker, “like getting Harrod’s at half price.”10

14The most aggressive and effective early pursuit of European manufacturers came from South Carolina, whose promoters could boast by the end of the 1970s that, in addition to plant investments from England, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and France, there was more West German industrial capital in their state than anywhere in the world except West Germany itself. Elsewhere, Nissan chose Smyrna, Tennessee, for a new truck-assembly plant in 1980, and the facility soon attracted considerable attention as a prime example of the way in which Japanese management styles could supposedly be transferred to a plant in the American South, where the “one-big-happy-family” approach favored by the Japanese bore a striking resemblance to the paternalism practiced in southern cotton mills of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. South Carolina developers cultivated this sense of kinship by promising Japanese industrialists “a cost-effective workforce” not simply because the state’s manufacturing wage was “among the lowest in the country” but because “like Japan, South Carolina emphasizes a strong work ethic and pride in workmanship.”11

15More than half of the foreign businesses drawn to the United States in the 1990s settled in the South. By 2002, one of eight manufacturing workers in the region was employed by a company headquartered in another country, and in 2010, six of the ten states registering the largest increases in FDI-related jobs were in the South. Recruiting foreign industry clearly did little to diminish the traditional emphasis on cheap labor, especially since the escalated “bidding war” for new payrolls now involved states both northern and southern. Not surprisingly, the southern states consistently raised the enticements bar by offering massive public subsidies to prospective employers. Amid mounting pressure throughout the United States to create new jobs to replace those lost to industrial outmigration, Smyrna, Tennessee, officials had offered Nissan a $33-million package to migrate their way in 1980, and the size of the signing bonus had effectively quintupled by 1992 when BMW agreed to locate an assembly plant near Spartanburg. This bounty included generous exemptions that have to this date reportedly spared this immensely profitable company the inconvenience of paying state corporate income taxes on a facility that is the nation’s largest vehicle exporter. Just in case BMW officials failed to find the pot sweet enough already, South Carolina threw in a $1-per-year lease on a $36-million parcel of land, as well as highway and airport improvements, extensive worker training at state expense, and fifty-five free apartments for BMW executives. In 1993 when Alabama offered what was at least a $325-million initial subsidy package to Mercedes, the cost of each of the 1,500 jobs originally available was $167,000. Some 63,000 applicants sought those positions, which paid well above the state average for manufacturing but represented an estimated 30 percent savings over the going rate in Germany.12

16Alabama also showed considerable generosity to Honda and Hyundai, and by 2011 its total estimated subsidy contributions to foreign automakers alone stood at roughly $930 million, a figure all but eclipsed at a single pop by the megabucks deal that lured German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp to Mobile in 2007. Running a distant second to Alabama, but apparently determined to catch up, Mississippi dumped a combined $ 660 million on Nissan and Toyota between 2000 and 2007 alone, and by 2013 its cumulative payoffs to Nissan were estimated at close to $1.3 billion.13

17The prevailing wisdom held that the upper hand in the new, ultra-competitive technologically streamlined global economy would belong to states that had invested heavily in research and development activities, not to mention public education at all levels. From such a perspective, it would seem counterintuitive that the southern states, which were hardly known for their generous contributions to the pursuit of knowledge at any level, would fare so well in the pursuit of global industrial capital. Yet ample testimony to the ability of a number of southern states to outstrip many of their more educationally advanced northern neighbors in attracting international industrial investment came in 2010, when a ranking of states’ perceived capacities to participate in the new, supposedly “Knowledge-Based” global economy showed that (in terms of percentage employment by foreign firms and production for export) the South accounted for six of the nation’s twelve most economically globalized states. South Carolina boasted the second highest percentage of workers employed by foreign companies, and North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee also placed in the top twelve in this category. At the same time, in outright defiance of the fundamental assumptions behind the rankings themselves, for all their success in attracting foreign direct investment, these four were also among the ten southern states clustered in the bottom fourteen in rankings of the educational levels of their work forces.14

18The success of these educationally laggard states in competing for foreign industrial investments seemed so surprising because, at least as far back as Karl Marx, observers have envisioned every modernizing society proceeding through precisely the same stages of development as its predecessors. In reality, the progression is anything but fixed because each participant leaves information and technological breakthroughs that may hasten the advance of those following it. Needless to say, globalization has greatly facilitated this process, for as we have seen time and time again, innovations in technology, technique, and organization registered in more economically advanced “leader societies” have actually become developmental shortcuts for other “follower societies” that have traditionally lagged behind. This is simply to say that the follower society need not complete every stage of institutional advance registered by its predecessors or invest resources in developing products and processes that have already been introduced elsewhere. Nowhere has this been more obvious than in China, not to mention the Soviet Union, which managed to send a man to the moon but never quite got the hang of toilet paper.

19In this light, the success of South Carolina and other southern states in advancing their economies without committing to the expensive and protracted process of developing a better-educated population is less improbable than it might seem. Taking advantage of the highly specialized nature of modern factory work and major gains in instructional technology and techniques, these states were able to offer specifically customized “startup” training programs designed to allow incoming employers to take advantage of an up-to-speed work force from Day One.15

20The promise of such a program doubtless helped to allay BMW’s concerns about the educational deficiencies of South Carolina workers, and despite Alabama’s consistent last or near-last standing in national educational rankings, only a threatened lawsuit by a teachers group prevented Governor Fob James from raiding the state’s school fund in 1995 to pay off the remainder of its subsidy pledge to Mercedes, whose entire workforce had also been custom-trained at state expense. A few years later, Alabama cut $266 million from its education budget shortly before serving up $ 318 million in incentives to Hyundai and Honda, much of it devoted to worker training. Meanwhile, over in that neighboring citadel of educational excellence, otherwise known as Mississippi, in 2000 when the state promised $ 80 million just to train 4,000 workers for a new Nissan production facility, the cost per worker was more than four times its annual per-pupil expenditures in grades K-12. Never mind that Mississippi languished in forty-eighth place in a respected national ranking of state school systems at that point. Delighted at the dramatic savings in their start-up costs, many of the South’s international employers seemed no more concerned than their domestic counterparts about whether their workers had ever taken calculus, written an essay, or read a sonnet. Meanwhile, unlike participants in Austria’s highly regarded vocational training system, southern workers who underwent start-up training tailored to the specific needs of a single employer were being trained for a job, rather than a career.16

21If the increasingly global mobility of industrial capital appeared to be a godsend to certain areas of the South, it seemed to be a curse for others. The $80 per day earned by a sewing machine operator in North Carolina hardly seemed extravagant – except to apparel industry executives who knew that workers doing the same thing in Bangladesh were paid less than half that amount every month. Throw in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened up Mexico’s enormous pool of cheap labor to foreign garment and textile operations, and it was easy enough to understand why North Carolina lost 35 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 1996 and 2006 and 10 other southern states suffered losses of 20 percent or more. Because of their heavy concentrations of textile and apparel employment, southern rural areas have been hit especially hard both by so-called Third World competition and the backwash from NAFTA, accounting for roughly half of the region’s job losses since 1979. In this sense, economic globalization seems to have exacerbated the South’s economic unevenness, because it tended to benefit metropolitan or metropolitan-fringe areas while sometimes decimating rural ones. East Alabama glitters with shiny new auto facilities as West Alabama hemorrhages apparel plants, and in the Carolinas, a strikingly internationalized I-85 corridor booms between Greenville and Charlotte, while a few miles away, Union and Chester and other single-formula-industry, textile towns are now effectively no-industry ghost towns.17

22Needless to say, the rural locational pattern of so much of the South’s labor-intensive manufacturing activity meant that the brunt of the manufacturing exodus fell on communities with the least economic resiliency. A few areas hammered by plant closings managed to attract new employers, but rarely were they even as generous as their tight-fisted predecessors. In all too many cases though, having kept taxes low in order to appease their now-departed industrial guests, southern communities lacked the educated work force or physical infrastructure to compete for more dynamic, better-paying industries. No state better illustrated the economic trauma and wage disparity inflicted by industrial outmigration than North Carolina, which bade farewell to 434,000 manufacturing jobs between 1989 and 2011, 41,000 more than also hard-hit South Carolina and Georgia combined. Regardless of their actual physical proximity, the state’s oft-touted, cutting-edge Research Triangle Park may as well have been on the moon so far as many rural North Carolinians were concerned. Rural North Carolina counties traditionally registered the state’s highest rates of dependence on manufacturing, which still accounted for an average of more than 14 percent of their total employment in 2012, compared to 9 percent in urban counties. Rural counties also showed the state’s lowest levels of educational attainment, with 28 percent of their adult population lacking high school diplomas in 2000 compared to 17 percent in metropolitan counties.18

23However they may have stacked up wage-wise nationally, North Carolina’s vanished manufacturing jobs were sorely missed. The average rural manufacturing worker in North Carolina earned a little over $42,000 in 2012, which was about 35 percent less than his or her urban counterpart, but still 30 percent more than the average for rural jobs outside the manufacturing sector. To make matters worse, when the state scrambled to prepare laid-off manufacturing workers to compete for new and better jobs, the results were generally unimpressive. North Carolina’s biotechnology retraining program had benefited unemployed textile workers hardly at all, according to one self-described “displaced worker in his mid-forties” who had managed “after much effort” to land only “two temp jobs” before he finally “gave up looking in biotech.” Aggregate statistics showed that scarcely half of such workers who did find new jobs were earning as much as 80 percent of their former wages. Commenting on the plight of unemployed North Carolina furniture workers whose jobs had been carted off to China, practically en masse, a state employment official noted that although “the people in the think tanks say we are going to become – what’s the term? – an ‘information and services’ economy. ... that doesn’t seem to be working out too good.”19

24North Carolina’s state and local officials had done admirably well in holding the line against offering subsidies to incoming employers likely to pay less than the local average, but by 2010 soaring unemployment rates had taken a heavy toll in some areas, and a number of firms offering decidedly subpar wages were granted state assistance. Decimated by unrelenting losses in the furniture industry over a number of years, Caldwell County had seen its jobless rate creep above 16 percent before state and local officials granted a $147,000 subsidy to a company slated to pay employees less than $20,000 a year, which fell nearly $ 10,000 short of the local average. Similar economic distress led to two companies receiving incentives to locate in Rockingham County, where their pay scales were expected to fall some $8,000 shy of the prevailing wage. While it might be argued that desperate times call for desperate measures, given the well documented “drag effect” on pay scales that results from adding a significant number of lower-than-average-wage positions to the local employment mix, such measures amount to rekindling job growth at the expense of hard-won gains in job quality, not to mention contributing to long-term unevenness in the state’s economy.20

25Despite notable achievements in particular locales and circumstances, the oft-hurrahed day when representatives of an economically vibrant South would no longer find it necessary to woo prospective employers with promises of cheap labor, low taxes, and over-the top subsidies has yet to arrive. Instead, it has remained difficult for the southern states to abandon the promises of tax exemptions, cheap labor, and other savings on operating costs that gave the region the nation’s balmiest business climate while depriving many of its communities of the educational and other institutional resources needed to make them attractive to better-paying, more socially conscious employers. The South’s overall difficulties in making its post-World War II industrial expansion a more effective springboard to human and societal progress was not simply the burdensome legacy of deep-seated regional poverty. Broadly speaking, not only the region’s economy but its social and institutional sectors as well have remained chronically underdeveloped relative to the rest of the nation in no small measure because of the rapid rise and expansion of an intensely competitive global manufacturing economy. Dramatic and still accelerating increases in industrial mobility and equally rapid and remarkable improvements in communications and production technology have not only eliminated many of the low-skill jobs that were once a regional mainstay, but they have also facilitated the transfer of thousands of others to distant concentrations of labor far cheaper and more docile than anything even the greediest of the old southern textile barons could ever have imagined.

26Despite its still generally well-below-the-U. S. -average wage for production workers, as the example of the aforementioned North Carolina garment worker illustrates, in the broader global context, the South has become a relatively high-wage zone where, in all too many cases, communities that once mortgaged their futures to employers who have now skipped town now lack both the labor force and the infrastructure to support industries that are truly high-wage by American standards. The fate of southern communities trapped in this ironic predicament surely suggests what may lie ahead for other far-flung areas whose integration into the global economy is now proceeding so rapidly that they may have considerably less time than did the South to achieve a semblance of economic or institutional stability before their heavily subsidized industrial employers are eyeing the proverbial greener pastures that await them just a few thousand miles farther on. If the South’s experience shows that “have-not” regions may actually enjoy some initial benefit from subvening their own exploitation, it surely also warns those who see this development strategy as merely a disposable means to an end of the difficulty they may face in preventing it from becoming an end in itself, and a dead one at that.

27Lest this scenario be dismissed as highly unlikely, let us partake of a little historical perspective, spiked with a dash of irony. Asked in 1995 to comment on BMW’s plans to locate a plant in South Carolina and Mercedes’s announcement that it was Alabama-bound, a German worker appeared to be alluding to the exodus of southern apparel and textile jobs to locations south of the border when he observed glumly that, with so many European industrialists succumbing to the allure of its cheap labor and notorious disregard for corporate responsibility, the American South had become “our Mexico.” Fast-forward twenty years to March 2013, and you have Markus Schaefer, CEO of Mercedes-Benz U. S. International, crowing to an audience at the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association about his organization’s $8-billion sales figures that made 2012 its “best year ever.” In practically the next breath, however, Schaefer proceeded to demonstrate his company’s appreciation for two decades’ worth of Alabama’s warmest hospitality with a frosty warning that “our business is not guaranteed forever here.” Lest he be misunderstood, Schaefer suggested that state officials should hear “a wake-up call” in Volkswagen’s recent decision to open an engine plant in Mexico, which, by the way, with its current manufacturing wage of $2.50 an hour, is now being called the “China of the West.” It is not simply wage rates that are actually 20 percent lower than China’s that explain why, at $3.7 billion, Mexico matched its neighbor to the north in announced automotive investment in 2012. Its massive free-trade network, encompassing forty-four countries as opposed to the U. S.’s twenty, also promises substantial savings to companies producing for export. This was doubtless a consideration when Audi spurned the advances of several southern states and chose Mexico for a new $1.3-billion assembly plant for its Q5 sport utility vehicles. While cars constructed in Mexico may be imported into the EU duty-free, had the plant been situated north of the border, a 10 percent tariff on vehicles built in the United States would have forced Audi to shell out more than $3,000 in duties per unit to make them available to European buyers. In addition to the NAFTA-induced influx of textile and apparel jobs from the southeastern states, Mexico’s recent success in persuading so many foreign car makers to forego new plant construction in the South (or elsewhere in the U. S.) suggests that, in addition to effectively becoming “China’s China,” in a classic case of reality mimicking metaphor, for European as well as American workers, “our Mexico” has become, for now at least, a literal as well as figurative reference.21

28The European Union’s ongoing difficulties in promoting a general wage convergence while working to achieve greater linearity between productivity and labor costs in particularly problematic economic zones suggest that variations in compensation across national boundaries still pose certain obstacles to worker solidarity within the EU. Yet, conversant with Shakespeare or not, the French autoworkers and German steelworkers who recently rallied behind the UAW’s campaign to organize Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant seem at least to understand that “all the world” really is the stage on which their individual and collective dramas will play out. It remains to be seen whether this insight will prove much of an advantage in what is clearly no mere morality play, but a real-life, high-stakes struggle with a thoroughly globalized economy, where national and corporate identities have long since parted ways and the search for “Mexico’s Mexico” is doubtless already underway.22

Notes de bas de page

1 David L. Carlton, Mill and Town in South Carolina, 1880-1920 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982), 63; see also, James C. Cobb, “Beyond Planters and Industrialists: A New Perspective on the New South,” Journal of Southern History 54 (February, 1988): 45-68.

2 James C. Cobb, Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 189.

3 This strategy is discussed more thoroughly in James C. Cobb, The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936-1990, 2nd ed. (Urbana: Illinois University Press, 1993), 1-63.

4 James C. Cobb, The South and America Since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 52-55.

5 James C. Cobb, “Industry and Commerce,” in Melissa Walker and James C. Cobb, eds., The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Vol. 11: “Agriculture and Industry” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 218.

6 Cobb, Selling of the South, 114.

7 Cobb, “Industry and Commerce,” 218.

8 Ibid ., 219; William W. Falk and Thomas A. Falk, High Tech, Low Tech, No Tech: Recent Industrial and Occupational Change in the South (Albany, N. Y., 1988), 84.

9 Cobb, Selling of the South, 188-93.

10 James C. Cobb, “Beyond the ‘Y’all Wall: The American South Goes Global,” Marko Manula, “Another Southern Paradox: The Arrival of Foreign Corporations, Change and Continuity in Spartanburg, South Carolina,” both in James C. Cobb and William W. Stueck, eds., Globalization and the American South (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2005), 2 (Cobb), 173-74 (Manula).

11 Cobb, Selling of the South, 189; Cobb, “Industry and Commerce,” 219.

12 Cobb, South and America, 206-207; IBM Institute for Business Value, “Global Locations Trend 2012 Annual Report,” p. 14, http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?subtype=XB&infotype=PM&appna me=GBSE_GB_TI_USEN&htmlfid=GBE03537USEN&attachment=GBE03537USEN.PDF (last accessed February 5, 2014); “BMW South Carolina Plant is Largest U. S. Exporter,” Industry Week, September 24, 2012, http://www.industryweek.com/expansion-management/bmw-south-carolina-plant-largest-us-exporter (last accessed January 12, 2014).

13 Cobb, South and America, 206-207.

14 Ibid ., 208-209; Robert Atkinson and Scott Andes, The 2010 State New Economy Index, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED515552.pdf (last accessed January 5, 2014).

15 Cobb, Selling of the South, 167-69. My broader analysis here is indebted to Reinhard Bendix, “Tradition and Modernity Reconsidered,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 9 (1967): 292-346.

16 Cobb, South and America, 208.

17 Ibid., 209-10.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid., 210: North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, “Our Manufacturing Future, Part 1: Findings” (2013), 5, http://www.ncindian.com/docs/NC%20Manufacturing%20Future%202013.pdf (last accessed January 15, 2014).

20 David Bracken, “State Settles for Low Wage Jobs,” Raleigh News and Observer, September 19, 2010, http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/09/19/690381/incentive-deals-settle-for-low.html (last accessed January 29, 2014).

21 Cobb, “Beyond the Y’all Wall,” 3-4, 2; Nedra Bloom, “Record Sales, Great Workers – But Maybe Not Forever,” Business Alabama/March 2013, http://www.businessalabama.com/Business-Alabama/March-2013/Record-Sales-Great-Workers-But-Maybe-Not-Forever/(last accessed February 2, 2014); Dean Barber, “The China of the West: Why Mexico is in the Driver’s Seat,” BarberBiz, October 27, 2013, http://deanbarber.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/the-china-of-the-west-why-mexico-is-in-the-drivers-seat/; “INSIGHT-RPT-Mexico drives North American auto investment, challenges China,” Reuters, October 21, 2013, http://www.reuters. com/article/2013/10/21/autos-mexico-investment-idUSL1N0I81ZM20131021 (last accessed January 28, 2014).

22 Steven Greenhouse, “At a Nissan Plant in Mississippi, a Battle to Shape the U. A. W.’s Future,” New York Times, October 7, 2013, B1.

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