Critique was founded in May 1973 following its first conference in London, at which some 500 people attended. In the initial editorial it declared that its aim was to analyse Stalinism based on the empirical reality, while rejecting an empiricist approach. It sought to discover the laws of motion applying to Stalinism. It rejected the imposition of schema on the analysis, usual both on the left and right.
The journal became associated with a new school of thought critical of Stalinism and the Soviet Union, which argued that the USSR was neither actually nor potentially a mode of production. Articles made it clear that it could not last and that the market would be imposed but that it would fail. The theory has been amply borne out by events.
In the second issue the editorial made clear "that we will follow the logic of our enterprise and publish articles on wider aspects of socialist theory, such as problems of the transitional period, the socialist mode of production etc." Debates on the decline of capitalism and the importance of Stalinism for capitalism led to contemporary discussions showing the greater instability of capitalism without the Cold War, the USSR and Stalinist parties. Critique became a more general journal of Marxist theory.