This essay examines the efforts by Austro-Marxists to identify, define, and incorporate “intellectual workers” (geistige Arbeiter) into their movement. In this struggle, socialists faced a hegemonic conservative establishment that controlled the largest scholarly societies and intellectual publications and held most positions in the universities and educational bureaucracy. Despite notable successes in “Red Vienna,” a closer examination of the discourse on intellectuals reveals that conservative ideas remained entrenched in interwar Austria. Austro-Marxists could not overcome the class biases and status anxieties of the educated middle class (Bildungsbürgertum), a problem that became more pronounced as the 1920s unfolded. The analysis of this lost debate reveals that the historiography of interwar Vienna requires revision to account for the relative weakness of progressive and radical ideologies and the persistence of antidemocratic, anti-Semitic, and authoritarian beliefs within Viennese intellectual culture. The participants in this “Black Viennese” cultural field have largely escaped critical scrutiny despite, and likely because of, their pervasiveness during the First Republic and after World War II. In looking at Austrian and European debates on the role of intellectuals in modern society, this article places conservatives back at the center of interwar Austrian intellectual and cultural history, while contending that they must bear greater responsibility for the authoritarian and fascist turns of Austria during the 1930s.