From the May 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard
What is wealth?
High Wycombe, Bucks.,
To the Editor of The Socialist Standard.
It is stated in the Party’s Manifesto “That wealth is natural material, converted by labour power to man’s use.” Am I right in assuming that unworked coal mines, undelved copper mines, undug gold mines, the uncaught fish in the sea, corn or cattle that grow wild, or the air we breathe, because they have no labour spent upon them, cannot be termed wealth? On the other hand coal, copper or gold which has been brought to the earth’s surface by human hands are wealth; similarly fish that have been netted from rivers or sea, cattle that have been reared, or corn grown by man. Even air, when used for industrial purposes, such as compressed air when used for automatic brakes, lifts, bellows, etc. I should esteem it a personal favour if you would let me know whether these remarks are correct in the columns of your next issue.
J. E. Roe.
Our correspondent is quite accurate in his statement of the nature of economic wealth and the manner of its production. Everyday experience (as instanced by the illustration our correspondent gives of compressed air) bears out the correctness of the Marxian view of this question.