In Josef Pieper’s book Leisure the Basis of Culture, he talks about the philosophical stand point taken by many on the topic of intellectual working being proletarian which is, the intellectual worker cannot be a proletarian occupation because they are doing a task that they love. This view, to him, seems asinine and absurd.
While Pieper tends to take a socialist spin on the matter, he makes a point. The idea that an “intellectual worker” is indeed a worker that is completing some taxing work because they are not truly contemplating the subject matter, therefore he is proletarian in nature, is true in the most basic of terms; however, I do not totally agree.
The proletariat worker is bound by the concept of the wage and how it tethers him to his work. I find this assertion to be straight forward and I love his reasoning behind this assertion. He states that “the essence of being ‘proletarian’ is the fact of being fettered to the process of work.”(p. 63) this makes me believe Pieper thinks that if one does what they would normally do in a leisurely setting for work, it automatically destroys any value it once had. Even though the leisurely activity is his work, the love of the subject at hand is still there, only with the added benefit of a wage.
This cements, to me, the line in the sand between a common worker and a worker who is thinking for a living, per say. If a proletariat worker is completing his task at hand only to provide for himself and possibly his family, then he leaves no room for loving the task for the task itself. While the so called “intellectual worker” is getting a wage for their work, making it an act of servility, they also do the work to do the work; they do it for their love of the subject matter. The intellectual work lives in a state of being both a proletarian occupation and Bourgeois past-time gone astray. He makes money for his work making him a working class citizen, yet he can spend that same time thinking and doing things other workers cannot.