Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet (Hardcover)
“Commerce changes entirely the fate and genius of nations…she first opens and polishes the mind, then corrupts and enervates both that and the body.” - Thomas Gray
As a woman originally from the American South, I found "Country Capitalism" particularly poignant. Bart Elmore's illuminating analysis helped me understand the economic, environmental, and social forces which have shaped my own family's history and, more broadly, the history of the region. I was particularly struck by his examination of the ways in which rural elites maintain their power via economic coercion, political influence, and cultural hegemony, at the expense of sustainable, community-centric approaches.
Elmore dissects the body of behavior exhibited by rural elites, tracing the development of a unique form of capitalism, which he calls "country capitalism.” Essentially, it is based on a complex network of relationships among family members, business associates, and political allies (think the “good old boy” network). Drawing on archival research and oral history interviews, Elmore demonstrates how this system helped sustain the South's economic and social hierarchies, even as it contributed to the region's underdevelopment and marginalization within the broader American economy.
And what are the results of such a system? Elmore manifestly proclaims that, as we increasingly desire convenience over principle, the environmental costs mount. The once-regional impact of such behavior now has globally destructive ecological consequences.
An eye-opening read that should cause every thinking person to reconsider their own involvement and complicity in structures whose aim is profit and convenience over substance and sustainability.— Cali
At the root, Elmore reveals a fundamental challenge: Our lives are built around businesses that connect far-flung rural places to urban centers and global destinations. This "country capitalism" that proved successful in the US South has made it possible to satisfy our demands at the click of a button, but each click comes with hidden environmental costs. This book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to create an ecologically sustainable future economy.