It was not a total write-off.
It was not a total write-off.
What happened was the monetarist policies of Reagan and Thatcher which led to the mantra of success measured by personal wealth. Society became dominated by corporations, stockmarkets, financial portfolios, individualism and greed.
Where the West goes the rest of the world largely follows, and so the once great enemies of USSR/China have both happily jumped on the capitalist bandwagon, and freedom be damned.
And in place of outrage and anger, the populace has been distracted and made docile by the trivial pursuits of mind-numbing TV shows and the latest status-symbols such as whatever new electronic gadget is out on the market.
I find the whole concept of what is deemed to be 'freedom' in the 21st century - essentially just blatant consumerism and globalisation - to be monumentally depressing.
It seems hard to summarize a decade in just a couple of sentences. But here are a couple of thoughts.
First, I think that there was a reaction against the excesses of the 60's and 70's. Some people were fighting a rearguard action against free love (including gay sex), and equality for women and blacks, which continues to this very day. But there were more for whom the drugs and violence were a turnoff. Not to mention long hair, bell bottoms, psychedelic posters. How long could those extreme fashions last?
The end of the Vietnam War, and the end of the draft, meant that many Americans were no longer directly affected by war. For decades, we had no major military involvements, and even now, it only affects those few who volunteer. The rest of us didn't have to make any sacrifices, not even higher taxes (until perhaps now). That removed a lot of the pressure that had led to unrest earlier.  And as others have remarked, general prosperity (and consumerism) in the 80's and 90's also reduced unrest.
In between, there was the Arab oil embargo, and the period of stagflation that followed, and the Iran hostage crisis, and Lebanon. Following the loss in Vietnam, I think this really sapped our sense that America could do anything, achieve anything. The flower power, new age, summer of love thing looked naive in retrospect, though perhaps beautiful.
Still, there were areas of progress in the 80's and the 90's, despite some backsliding. The fight against AIDS contributed to the advance of gay rights generally, I think, though it has taken a long time to come to fruition. In other areas, greater freedom and greater acceptance of diversity remain more widespread than a half century ago.
More lately, inequality has been growing again. Perhaps the seeds were sown as early as deregulation under Reagan. But it has been getting more obvious, especially since 2008, and I think that contributes to a new spirit of social activism.
Last edited by handyman76; November 16th, 2012 at 06:07 PM.
I actually think material comforts should be part of a measure of success. I think we should aspire to economic security.
The problem with Thatcherism was the assumption that if people failed to achieve material comfort, it was because of a personal failing. There was never a problem with material comfort as such, which a lot of modern socialists forget.
I think the two largest historical events would have be the end of the cold war-collapse of the former USSR and the 90s internet-pc , which has had and will have a major impact on human society , possibly I think the single largest event in human history .
funny coincidence that no one else even mentioned the 1 way this question can even be asked