By Jenny Andersson
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Extra resources for The Library and the Workshop: Social Democracy and Capitalism in the Knowledge Age
3 The literature around the knowledge economy includes many references to this expansion of the economic, but it has a particular relevance in the history of social democracy because notions of human potential, culture, and education are notions that historically have referred to values in conflict with the idea of profit. Now they become drawn into the process of capitalist improvement. We can take this back to the argument set out in the Introduction; while the Third Way cannot be set apart from “old” social democracy by means of its fundamental market acceptance, what the Third Way does is to turn arguments that in the history of social democracy were arguments against capitalism into arguments for capitalism.
This aspect of hegemony as a kind of national consensus around social reformism has tainted the legacies of both Left and Right in Swedish political history. There is a long-standing critique of welfare statism in Swedish political history, a critique that goes back to the late nineteenth century and runs parallel to the development of the welfare state. Over time it has included orientations such as ethical socialism and the “Third Ways” of mutuality and cooperative movements, both cultural radicalism and cultural conservatism, neoliberalism and pro-Europeanism, but it has rarely questioned the foundations of the Swedish model.
It gives relevance to limited notions of stakeholding,53and it permits the Third Way’s critique of the state, a critique it inherited from both the New Left and the New Right. The notion of partnership draws on the quintessentially Third Way claim that the new economy challenges both the old Left’s and the New Right’s understanding of the boundaries between market and state. The old Left, or so the New Labour story goes, thought that it could steer innovation and change and did not real- The Political Economy of Knowledge 37 ize the individualism and private nature of creativity and entrepreneurship, while neoliberalism with its atomistic theory of economic man and free market did not see the fundamental social logic of processes such as learning and creativity.