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So basically I’d like to know what steel marxism is _actually_ about, and especially wtf is up with the labor theory of value and democratic economy/economic democracy.

I am thoroughly convinced that the real explanation for the “Labor Theory of Value” is: “Marx never actually used the phrase and, additionally, distanced himself from it, viz: Critique of the Gotha Programme” where he writes:

Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power. the above phrase is to be found in all children’s primers and is correct insofar as it is implied that labor is performed with the appurtenant subjects and instruments. But a socialist program cannot allow such bourgeois phrases to pass over in silence the conditions that lone give them meaning. And insofar as man from the beginning behaves toward nature, the primary source of all instruments and subjects of labor, as an owner, treats her as belonging to him, his labor becomes the source of use values, therefore also of wealth. The bourgeois have very good grounds for falsely ascribing supernatural creative power to labor; since precisely from the fact that labor depends on nature it follows that the man who possesses no other property than his labor power must, in all conditions of society and culture, be the slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labor. He can only work with their permission, hence live only with their permission. 

He’s fumbling a bit in the dark because he’s writing in 1875, before we had really fixed on how great a conveyor of information you get from setting prices free on the market, but he’s definitely aware that there’s more going on than just “labor creates value, capital parasitically takes it away.”

Uncharitably, the answer to “wtf is up with the labor theory of value” is: Marxism is a rotten-through ideology that does not believe in the efficacy of analyzing what happens when theory meets praxis. Marxism is not actually interested in improving the conditions of the laboring class, it is primarily interested in signalling Marxism, which these days includes the Labor Theory of Value without consideration of how useful it is in improving the conditions of the laboring class.

In short: Remove minimum wage, instead institute UBI. Remove regulations instead use a robust court system to handle harm from externalities.

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