Everybody is always remarking about how stuck our society feels these days.
The music doesn’t change,
the political parties are all exactly the same,
and films and TV dramas are almost always set in the past.
We are also stuck with an economic system that is not delivering the paradise that it once promised
– but is instead creating chaos and hardship.
Yet no-one can imagine a better alternative,
so we remain static
– paralysed by a terrible political and cultural claustrophobia.
I want to tell the story of another time and another place not so long ago
that was also stifled by the absence of novelty and lacking a convincing vision of the future.
It was in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and 1980s.
At the time they called it “the years of stagnation”.
There are of course vast differences between our present society and the Soviet Union of thirty years ago
– for one thing they had practically no consumer goods whereas we are surrounded by them,
and for another western capitalism was waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum.
But there are also echoes of our present mood
– a grand economic system that had once promised heaven on earth
had become absurd and corrupted.