By this he means knowledge that is valued for its own sake, regardless of any particular practical application (in a way, similar to the way we value art for its own sake, regardless of how much money we may make by selling that Picasso we all have in our attic).
"Learning, in the renaissance, was part of the joie de vivre, just as much as drinking or love-making." Interesting comparisons there, no?
This sort of measures would reconnect, as Russell puts it, finance and industry, and would greatly benefit the welfare of the majority of people.
Alas, the American public has been sold on the idea that anybody can become instantly rich, and this hope dazzles and blinds us into acquiescence to a system that makes most people's lives worse than they could be.
But, he quickly points out, we are raised in a society for which something like that would be unthinkable, because the people at the top of the economic ladder have never liked those below to have leisure time, and even less to improve their lot.
You never know, educated people might start thinking critically, which may lead to dire consequences for the establishment.
Just think of the fact that the richest country in the world (and the self-professed best democracy on the planet) still has the shame of having tens of millions of its citizens and children without health care.
In 1935, the influential British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote an essay titled “In Praise of Idleness.” In it, he extolled the virtues of relaxation and leisure even in the face of withering pressure to push your body and mind to their limits.
The idea is that capitalism, if it has to work, has to be based on certain rules ("managed capitalism," they call it in Europe).
One of these rules is a tight coupling between investments (capital) and the products of the industry one is investing on.