The early 1970s (my early teens) were a period of economic decline and national political pessimism; but also a time when there was considerable hope about a possible desirable future - utopianism was having its last big phase. Since the later 70s there have been periods of greater national energy and economic-political recovery; but never any formed optimism.
Now, it is clear enough to me now that the early-70s optimism, and belief-in a coming transformation of society was delusory - nonetheless it was a fact of life.
For example, when I turned 17 I did not bother learning to get a driving license, because I was confident that cars would not be around for much longer: I believed that the demise of our industrial society was imminent, and that was what I wanted.
I envisaged a village-level and more communal life - much like Medieval times but minus the Warrior Lord and the Priests.
This absence was important, because I understood that without this needless and counter-productive expenditure of resources (money, food, time and energy) I thought we could:
1. Raise the standard of living of the ordinary peasants above subsistence to a reasonable sufficiency.
2. Increase the amount of discretionary leisure from minimal to ample.
3. And, thereby, enable people to do what they deeply wanted to do; which was (I thought) to replace the business of fighting and religion with a great expansion of arts and crafts - and, implicitly, sexual freedom too, although I did not articulate this.
This utopian vision owed itself to a combination of William Morris socialism through to RH Tawney, and the self-sufficiency/ ecology/ Small is Beautiful movement as advocated by the likes of John Seymour and EF Schumacher. It was also sustained by great love of Tolkien, and of folk music.
What happened as the seventies proceeded (the balance inflecting probably from 1976-7) was that this vision gradually soured and darkened - and dystopia became more and more dominant; and has stayed.
The village idyll of my hopes was replaced by a rotten pastoralism that saw the countryside as a fake, concealing dark and sinister goings-on - mind-controlled rustics engaged in ritual mutilation, rape, murder; or secret business and government agencies concealed in forests or underground. A totalitarian future of surveillance, manipulation, poisoning, destruction, massification...
The hedonic, creative paganism of my vague daydreams was replaced by instinctive savagery or actually demonic activities.
Of course, my early teen daydreams were false and impossible, and could not really have led to anything Good - and I suppose this fact was gradually brought home.
But this necessary disillusion did not lead to deeper insight (i.e. not to Romantic Christianity) - but only to that materialistic cynicism and implicit despair which has so very-completely corrupted my generation.
Time horizons have shortened, the capacity - and desire for - coherent consecutive thought has all-but disappeared from general public discourse; the focus is on forgetting oneself in self-indulgence and current happiness while signalling dominance and sexiness; alongside an official-bureaucratic culture of moral self-congratulation/ fake-ideals/ manufactured 'passion'/ permanent guilt; that is going nowhere but to a world of microchipped semi-humans dwelling in a web of convincing-illusions - a virtual techno-reality provided-controlled by a centralised organisation that we hope, but don't actually believe, will be benign.
In short, we utterly failed (as a society) to learn from the dreams and disillusion of the 1970s; we failed then, and we have since doubled-down on this failure.