Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet (Hardcover)

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Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet By Bart Elmore Cover Image

Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

“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

The rural roads that led to our planet-changing global economy ran through the American South. That region's impact on the interconnected histories of business and ecological change is narrated here by acclaimed scholar Bart Elmore, who uses the histories of five southern firms--Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx, and Bank of America--to investigate the environmental impact of our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit economy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with company executives, corporate archives, and other records, Elmore explores the historical, economic, and ecological conditions that gave rise to these five trailblazing corporations. He then considers what each has become: an essential presence in the daily workings of the global economy and an unmistakable contributor to the reshaping of the world's ecosystems. Even as businesses invest in sustainability initiatives and respond to new calls for corporate responsibility, Elmore shows the limits of their efforts to "green" their operations and offers insights on how governments and activists can push corporations to do better.

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.

Product Details ISBN: 9781469673332
ISBN-10: 1469673339
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Publication Date: May 16th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English