The history of developing failure criteria is briefly examined. The cumulative result is found to be completely unsatisfactory and extremely misleading, to the point of crisis. The long time blockage of the materials failure field has had serious and retarding effects on all related technical areas that are dependent on reliable failure projections. A new and rationally different approach to failure theory formulation is outlined and fully documented. After summarizing recent research progress, a program for the recovery and revitalization of the field is given.