Peter wrote the following excellent and relevant comment on Email to Don Boudreaux and with his kind permission, I'm elevating it to a post of its own so that it doesn't get lost in the comment archives. Here it is...
By the seventies, the bloom was off the rose and the left project became decrepit. Inflation, stagflation, crumbling infrastructure, endless union blackmail, urban decay, debt crises, underinvestment, feckless foreign policy etc. The leftist narrative is that Reagan and Thatcher rode in on the coattails of a coalition of misanthropic, dysfunctional misfits marching against history, but they were clearly a reaction to public anger and despair over failure and madness.
What I remember clearly from those years is how many confirmed leftists took the position that the problems of liberalism/socialism called, not for an honest reappraisal of misguided or outdated assumptions, but for more liberalism/socialism. The only problem with any government initiative, no matter how crazy or destructive, was underfunding. Then, as now, comparatively few were prepared to engage in honest self-criticism.
It's now been thirty-five years since the triumph of free-market thinking and your little dispute with Café Hayek shows something similar may be happening on the right. Free-market theories have been so dominant in economic thinking in the West that in the 90s even liberals like Clinton, Blair and others governed from the right economically (culturally is a whole different story). But beginning in 2008 cracks have started to appear in North America and especially Europe: the ambiguous benefits of the religion of ever-expanding free trade, the political power of the financial industry and central bankers, the concentration of wealth, etc, not to mention wildly expensive foreign policies that thwarted confident predictions--all should be leading us to honest self-criticism based on what our lyin' eyes tell us is going on out there and with respect for the reality of peoples' lives rather than seeing them as interchangeable rats in an ideological lab. Instead we see libertarians calling for ever purer applications of their theories and leaning on rote shibboleths like crony capitalism and bad individual choices (I treasure the fellow over there who tried to argue people are individually responsible for the havoc caused by losing their jobs--poor planning).
Even our rhetoric has grown stale. In the 80's, there was much hope and excitement over the thrill of breaking out of a sclerotic stasis. Words like innovation, excellence, "morning in America", etc. inspired many. I don't see much today except for repeatedly touting the virtues of "hard work" to a population faced with a bewildering tornado of "creative destruction" over which they feel they have no control. Not much to offer a new generation yearning for ideals to define their lives around.
Individuals can change, but rarely a whole generation. So hats off to you and keep up the good fight. There's a special place for you in the next world, but I fear maybe not in this one.