After a short historical and conceptual introduction to the labor theory of value (LTV), it is noted that the oil industry presents a paradox to the LTV. How is it that oil companies employ relatively few workers and invest in a relatively large amount of machinery and still are the largest and most profitable companies on the planet? It should be otherwise if the LTV were true. The rest of the article is devoted to showing how Marx modified the LTV to resolve the paradox and to account for the peculiar role that the oil industry plays in contemporary capitalism.

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