In Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper states that there are three causes that can lead to a proletarian life. The first condition is the lack of property, the second is the coercion of a totalitarian state, and the third is the state of inner impoverishment. Most of Pieper’s conjectures come off as confusing when initially read, but this was something that immediately registered and astonishingly made complete sense.
After defining the term proletarian, Pieper goes on to explain its causes. The third condition, however, is the most interesting of the three. Pieper explains that a state of inner impoverishment will lead one to a proletariat lifestyle. I believe that Pieper means that people who do not possess enough self-worth derive that worth from working. Working gives them a sense of purpose that fills the void that inner impoverishment can create. The reason why the third condition resonated with me most is because of the validity it holds in the real world.
In today’s society I feel that an abundance of citizens deal with the third cause of proletarian lifestyles. I have even come to the realization that I too have succumb to a proletarian lifestyle because of this condition. Human beings have come to a point where we need to work in order to create a sense of accomplishment. Individuals who do not work often times feel unproductive and or unimportant. Therefore we have become “fettered” to a cycle of working in order to stay mentally and spiritually at peace. Pieper brings this truth to light and he could not be more correct in his accusations.