The Movement for Economic Democracy in the South: The Virginia Organizing Project, 1995–2004

Michael Dennis

in Life and Labor in the New New South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780813037950
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043111 | DOI:
The Movement for Economic Democracy in the South: The Virginia Organizing Project, 1995–2004

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In the 1990s, the South became the nation's leading exponent of free market fundamentalism. Business leaders updated the South's traditional hostility to labor unionism and wrapped it in an ideology that celebrated the virtues of “lean production,” technological innovation, and business dominance. Emerging in the early 1990s, the Virginia Organizing Project tried to fill the void left by weak unions and a stalled civil rights movement. Focusing on community organizing, the Virginia Organizing Project rejuvenated the discussion of political economy in the South, linking to a campaign to educate and politicize working-class voters. Through anti-racism workshops, it advanced the idea that any legitimate working-class movement had to advance racial justice. Through economic workshops, it sought to demystify the New Economy and explain how power operated in class terms. Lending assistance to local labor campaigns, the VOP championed a unique form of social movement unionism. What it could not do was construct the outline of a mass movement that had the potential to change the balance of power.

Keywords: South; textile industry; deindustrialization; North American Free Trade Agreement; manufacturing employment; imports; sunbelt; textile workers

Chapter.  13747 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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