‘Mountainous inconsistency’: EP Thompson, Marx, and ‘The Poverty of Theory’

Scott Hamilton

in The Crisis of Theory

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084355
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702338 | DOI:
‘Mountainous inconsistency’: EP Thompson, Marx, and ‘The Poverty of Theory’

Show Summary Details


‘The Poverty of Theory’ could not avoid being an exercise in Marxology. Edward Palmer Thompson makes it abundantly clear throughout ‘The Poverty of Theory’ that he does not accept Louis Althusser and his followers' claims to be ‘completing’ Marx's thought. Perry Anderson believes that the Marxological sections of ‘The Poverty of Theory’ represent the ‘most novel’ part of the whole essay. He also perceives that Thompson is afraid of the prospect of economic reductionism. It is shown that Thompson's invocation of Marx's late work has an important place in his account of Marx's career. The reading of Marx that Anderson and many others considered eccentric and obviously mistaken has proved remarkably resilient. The ambivalence in Whigs and Hunters about the role and value of the law reflects a wider ambivalence in Thompson's thought about the status of Britain's traditional legal and political institutions.

Keywords: Edward Palmer Thompson; Marxology; The Poverty of Theory; Marx; Perry Anderson; Louis Althusser; Whigs and Hunters; Britain

Chapter.  8786 words. 

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.