Although these occupations may be ‘incidentally and indirectly “productive”’ it is widely understood that the motive in taking them up is not to increase the wealth of the post holder. That is to say,
At this as at any other cultural stage, government and war are, at least in part, carried on for the pecuniary gain of those who engage in them; but it is gain obtained by the honorable method of seizure and conversion. These occupations are of the nature of predatory, not of productive, employment.
This idea about work being indecent is hard to comprehend in this present day - at least for someone of my class - but most of what I know from history and literature bears out this explanation. The writings of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott spring to my mind. No doubt better read persons could come up with a wider range of authors.
Veblen gives examples of these evidences of leisure. They include the knowledge of
the dead languages,
correct spelling (!)
syntax and prosody (the rhythm and sounds in poetry)
the various forms of music and art
the latest properties of dress, furniture, and equipage (ie carriage, horses and attendants)
games, sports, and fancy-bred animals, such as dogs and race-horses
Also, the knowledge of what is known as manners and breeding, polite usage, decorum, and formal and ceremonial observances. He says these sorts of accomplishments have survived because they provided useful evidence of an unproductive expenditure of time. This is also the period of the elaboration of the system and use of rank, titles, degrees and insignia (ie heraldic devices, medals, and honorary decorations) as a substitute for the former trophies won by exploit.