On the Commodification of Living Knowledge in Empire: A View From the Global North

Magnus Andersen


This essay discusses the hypothesis of ‘the commodification of living knowledge’. This hypothesis sheds light on  contemporary capitalism’s attempt to capture knowledge produced by living labour within the institutions of the welfare state in its process of valorisation, which provides another perspective on how ‘the welfare state’ transforms into ‘the competitive state’. This discussion situates itself within the post-workerist literature, especially referring to twenty-year-old publication of the literat Michael Hardt and philosopher Antonio Negri’s magnum opus Empire (2000). Focusing on the Nordic welfare state, the aim of the essay is to show how capital attempts to commodify living knowledge produced this setting. This is particularly exemplified through the phenomenon of ‘welfare export’ reflecting how the common is commodified. Through the discussion of how the Nordic welfare state is re-configured, the essay concludes by locating a new site of political struggle, as phenomenon such as ‘welfare export’ forces us to critically reflect on the purpose of welfare and the role of the welfare state as such in Empire.


Empire; contemporary capitalism; Michael Hardt; Antonio Negri



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