Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Here Comes the ’70s

By Matthew Walter, The American Conservative

It is somehow absurdly fitting that Joe Biden, who entered the United States Senate in 1973 at the age of 30 as an opponent of racial busing, is presiding over a return to the 1970s. The Seventies are one of the few decades that the popular imagination—economic decline, decadence, environmental catastrophism, a lot of great football—gets right. While the differences between our present moment and the world of half a century ago are ultimately more important than the similarities, the latter are worth enumerating.

More than a year after the imposition of lockdowns, unemployment remains high even as wages stagnate. Whatever professional economists say about the matter, inflation is undeniably here, and if the secretary of the Treasury is to be believed, higher interest rates will follow sooner or later. Meanwhile, there are gas shortages on the Eastern Seaboard, though they remain a matter of curiously less reporting than one might expect. (This time we find ourselves hostages not to the whims of oil sheiks but of teenaged hackers.) Memories of rioting are fresh in many of our cities, and abroad there is civil war again in Ethiopia and the threat of a major conflict in Israel. Unspeakable sacrileges are being perpetrated by radical clergy.


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