In this reissued collection of essays, first published in 1985, Paul Q. Hirst assesses the limits of the Marxist theory of history in its various versions. It begins with an extended critical discussion of Perry Anderson and Edward Thompson, and includes chapters on G.A Cohen’s attempt to re-state the Marxist theory of history in terms compatible with analytic philosophy, on R.G. Collingwood’s theory of history, on Anderson’s work on Absolutism, on Thompson’s Poverty of Theory, and on the contemporary politics of democratic socialism.

1. Anderson’s Balance Sheet  2. G.A Cohen’s Theory of History  3. Collingwood, Relativism and the Purpose of History  4. The Necessity of Theory - A Critique of E.P Thompson’s The Poverty of Theory  5. The Uniqueness of the West - Perry Anderson’s Analysis of Absolutism and its Problems  6. Interview with Local Consumption  7. Labour’s Crisis - Principles and Priorities for Social Reconstruction  8. Obstacles in the Parliamentary Road