Hope and Disillusionment at the End of a Century
Dreams of Silicon prosperity dominated Virginia's public life in the 1990s, but they failed to answer nagging questions about the economic hardship that so many Virginians faced. The rhetoric of growth through competitiveness and survival through retraining did not alleviate the sinking feeling of insecurity that gripped so many. Some southerners were organizing against unrestricted global capitalism, rejecting the claim that an unfettered marketplace distributed equal benefits to all. The intricacies of the WTO debate are of less concern here than the fact that Virginians and southerners joined street protests. Altogether, the actions against the WTO and in 2000 against the IMF illustrated the persistence of democratic sensibilities in an era of market triumphalism. Southerners did not dominate the movement, but their participation suggested the limits of Sunbelt South mythology.
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