The Nature Of The Wealth Of A Community
by P Atkinson (April 2009)

What Is Wealth?
Wealth is the ability to fulfil wants, which is a function of understanding and assets, with an asset being something that understanding employs to provide a benefit. To a primitive nomad, who lives by reaping nature's bounty, enough land to feed a family can extend hundreds of square miles, whereas a farmer could feed a family from a few acres of the same land. The different wealth obtained by the nomad and the farmer, is the difference in their understanding. That is, an asset is something given value by understanding: the more powerful the understanding the greater the benefits, the weaker the understanding, the less the benefits. Hence:

Wealth is the Ability To Fulfil Wants, which is: Assets * Strength of Understanding

(Compare with John Ruskin's definition of wealth in the chapter 'Ad Valorem' from "Unto This Last")

Communal Wealth
So Communal Wealth is the ability of the community to fulfil its wants, which is determined by the community's assets and how those assets are used, which in turn must reflect the strength of the community's understanding.

The Division Of Labour
Adam Smith in his work "The Wealth Of Nations" made it clear that wealth was created not just by human toil, but how that toil was applied. He explained how huge gains were made by breaking down a manufacturing task into its separate stages and giving each worker just one stage. And he illustrated this claim with the example of the manufacture of pins. In book one, chapter one, he revealed how ten men working separately could manufacture perhaps 20 pins each a day, a total of 200 pins a day. But by giving each worker a different task in the manufacturing process of the same pin, together they could easily create 48,000 pins a day! What Mr Smith did not clarify was that this division of labour was not inherent in work, but was achieved by the community's improved understanding of the manufacturing process.

Example Of Australia
When Aboriginals were the sole occupants of Australia, the wealth they realised through much toil was barely enough to feed, cloth and shelter a few stone-age tribes. Now that Western civilisation occupies Australia, its wealth is sufficient to feed, clothe and shelter millions as well as provide these citizens with a life of ease, at a cost of much less individual toil.

The difference between the poverty of the Aboriginals and the wealth of today (circa 2002) is the difference between the communal understanding of the Aboriginals and that of Western Civilisation. Both cultures were blessed with the same raw resources, but the cleverer culture obtained much greater wealth with much less human effort.

Wealth Allowed By Improved Technology
The better tools and techniques—technology—obtained by the genius of Western Civilisation allowed the creation of massive wealth. But the riches won by such tools does not spring from the existence but the application of the technology.

Result Of Technology Decided By How Its Applied
Though such technology is available to the citizens of all other cultures, it has failed to generate the same wealth for citizens of cultures outside of Western Civilisation. And further improvements in technology have decreased, not increased, the wealth of Western Civilisation. This result merely confirms that the achievement won by a tool is dictated by the character of the understanding that employs it.

Wealth Is Understanding
There is no doubt that assets create wealth, but it is understanding that discovers assets, so understanding creates wealth. As communal understanding improves, wealth must increase, but as understanding recedes, so must wealth. (also see "Riches From Truth, Ruin From Lies).

Morality Dictates Wealth
As understanding controls the creation of wealth and the nature of an understanding is dictated by its foundation of morality, then the creation of wealth must depend upon the morality of its makers: a dependence that was described in the nineteenth century by John Ruskin in his "Essays on Political Economy".(particularly "The Nature Of Wealth").