I have a theory that is superior to the Marxist labour theory of value (LTV). It’s called the Sun Theory of Value.
We all know the LTV: the value of a commodity is determined by the abstract socially necessary labour time required to produce it. A unit of abstract socially necessary labour time is homogeneous, and of course it needs to be homogeneous to be able to aggregate the heterogeneous types of labour in human societies.
But how on earth do you properly formulate abstract socially necessary labour time? How do you meaningfully aggregate the work of a surgeon, mathematician, lawyer, bricklayer, or janitor? There is a terrible aggregation problem for Marx’s LTV. We have a problem here almost as bad as aggregating interpersonal subjective utilities.
And then there is the problem: why aren’t slaves or animals considered to be capable of creating labour value? And, if that isn’t enough, in volume 1 of Capital we are told that abstract socially necessary labour does determine the prices of real individual commodities, but by the time of volume 3 of Capital apparently it doesn’t do this anymore, but only in a ridiculous aggregate sense, rather like an ingenious but blatantly dishonest accounting gimmick. Furthermore, the theory has no real explanatory power and adds nothing to economic science.
A pretty worthless and empirically irrelevant theory, no?
Well, I can go one better than Comrade Marx.
I propose a “Sun Theory of Value.”
The source of most energy that reaches the earth is clearly the sun. Without the sun and the energy it provides, there wouldn’t be any production of any kind.
Energy can be embodied in raw materials and we can measure human work as energy expended and machine work in terms of energy expended too. So therefore all commodities must have a “physically-necessary sun energy” value. All commodities are just embodiments of the “physically-necessary sun energy” required to produce them. We can even – unlike the hopeless Marxists – use a real homogenous unit to calculate energy straight from the natural sciences: the joule.
Therefore all prices must really just be reducible to and determined by “physically-necessary sun energy.”
Clearly all people from workers to capitalists are ruthlessly exploiting the poor, oppressed and innocent sun. The real theft in sale of commodities is from the sun. We should offer all commodities to the sun, and that way the sun will grant us a utopian socialist paradise on earth where the state will wither away.
This is my theory.
Of course, I don’t have any convincing empirical evidence to support it, but naturally, well, I believe it all the more passionately.
I also expect you to believe it as well, and anyone who doesn’t must be an anti-sun reactionary – and will be immediately intellectually and morally suspect to me.
Although I haven’t as yet written three interminably boring, 1000-page-long books defending the Sun Theory of Value or Sun worship, I think I can give you a foundational text: this video below by George Carlin (who, admittedly, in his passion for sun worship uses some rather... colourful language).
So people of the world let us throw aside all other economic theories – particularly the idiotic Marxist labour theory of value – and adopt Sun worship, Sun economics and the Sun Theory of Value. We have nothing to lose but our chains. Or something like that.