This first year and sixth form textbook presents the student with an unbiased assessment of the respective merits and demerits of the variety of economic systems that have existed in the 20th century. In non-technical language, it provides an overview of capitalism, social democracy, Marxism-Leninism, placing each in its historical context and analyzing in terms of both ideology and performance in practice. Third World experiences are taken into consideration. The book helps the reader to explore the contrasting arguments around competing systems and their underlying value assumptions. To influence the future, we must understand the past. To find a way forward for both developed and developing countries, we must assess the actual history of humankind's attempts to overcome poverty, economic marginalisation, resource depletion and ecological deterioration.