I remember the "liberal 1980's" well, under the rule of the Great Earth Mother. It was a free lovin' hippy paradise.
Yet the eighties were more liberal in at least one important respect: there may have been violent disagreements about the government’s role in the economy but there was little urge to make the whole of private life the territory of endless management, incentive and punishment initiatives.
Now I feel like I’m on the wrong end of a political Doppler shift. The general assumption I grew up with was that past in general was always more reactionary. The sixties may have seen a struggle towards greater social liberalism, but that just went to prove the point. We now seem to be getting to the stage where the past – at least, the fairly recent past - is always more liberal because there was a general acceptance of much greater personal autonomy.