Neoliberal discourse has its limits. In Mr. Ronald Reagan’s America, they are precisely confused with the borders of each of the 50 states. Faced with a federal disengagement – which suffers only from an exception for military spending – local governments and their assemblies, more sensitive to unemployment figures than to ideological incantations from Washington, are intervening more and more openly in economic life. With one objective: to save or create jobs, and in close cooperation with employers, on the one hand, concerned about preserving their market share and, on the other hand, employees, concerned about their future. This is very often over the unions, which, with their backs to the wall, have no alternative strategy.
Across the Federation, imagination is in power to optimize resources, mobilize stakeholders and generate synergies, particularly between the research and industry communities. Sometimes also to neutralize wage and working conditions claims. Behind the smoke screen of the Reaganian “laissez-faire” – which, in France, really only gives a change to the patented “opinion leaders” and other appointed “observers” of America – is the reality of the rise of several dozen “territorial economies”. One state has taken a step forward in the development of these new and ambiguous forms of entrepreneurship-partnership: Michigan, which, as long ago as sixty years ago, had been the crucible of automotive civilization.