After explaining that the “New South” as the “era after Reconstruction and before the Civil Rights laws when the states of the old Confederacy seemed most determined to preserve a social and economic order that encouraged low-wage industrialization as they fought to maintain Jim Crow,” Nelson Lichtenstein points out that it’s back.
This is not only a product of racial fears and resentments, however. It also appears to reflect an increasingly inbred Southern hostility to the exercise of economic regulatory power on virtually any level. As in the 19th century, many in the South, including a considerable proportion of the white working-class, have been persuaded that the federal government is their enemy.
As in the New South era, Southern whites, both elite and plebian, have adopted an insular and defensive posture toward the rest of the nation and toward newcomers in their region. Echoing the Jim Crow election laws promulgated by Southern states at the turn of the 20th century, the new wave of 21st-century voting restrictions promise to sharply curb the Southern franchise — white, black and brown.
The new New South rejects not only the cosmopolitanism of a multiracial, religiously pluralist society, but the legitimacy of government, both federal and state, that seeks to ameliorate the poverty and inequality that has been a hallmark of Southern distinctiveness for more than two centuries.