The proletariat intelligensia

John Paul II nails the job market for recent philosophy PhDs in this remark from Laborem exercens (1981 encyclical, ‘On Human Work’):

36. Movements of solidarity in the sphere of work–a solidarity that must never mean being closed to dialogue and collaboration with others–can be necessary also with reference to the condition of social groups that were not previously included in such movements, but which in changing social systems and conditions of living are undergoing what is in effect “proletarianization” or which actually already find themselves in a “proletariat” situation, one which, even if not yet given that name, in fact deserves it. This can be true of certain categories or groups of the working “intelligentsia,” especially when ever wider access to education and an ever increasing number of people with degrees or diplomas in the fields of their cultural preparation are accompanied by a drop in demand for their labor. This unemployment of intellectuals occurs or increases when the education available is not oriented toward the types of employment or service required by the true needs of society, or when there is less demand for work which requires education, at least professional education, than for manual labor, or when it is less well paid. Of course, education in itself is always valuable and an important enrichment of the human person; but in spite of that, “proletarianization” processes remain possible.

Philosophers Professors of the World Unite!!  (We’ll invite English, Classics, and Art History profs as well.  Hell, all the liberal arts and anyone concerned with non-vocational education is welcome to join our solidarity movement.) 


Author: Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

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