People always lament the present as marked by decay, decadence, degeneration and decline; exhalting the past as one of radiance, rigour and rectitude. Steven Pinker said:
"Every generation thinks that the younger generation is dissolute, lazy, ignorant, and illiterate."
Hiraeth is the adjective which describes a deep nostalgia for the past. It's described like this: "A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past." A commenter on Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish, wrote:
"Kids These Days have been sliding inexorably toward delinquency, indolence, and immodesty for at least 1000 years."
The Benedictine monk Guibert, Abbot of Nogentsouscoucy, (1055-1124) wrote in his autobiography:
"O God, Thou knowest how hard, how almost impossible it would be for women of the present time to keep such chastity as [my mother's example]; whereas there was in those days such modesty, that hardly ever was the good name of a married woman smirched by ill report Ah! how wretchedly have modesty and honour in the state of maidenhood declined from those times to these, and both the reality and the show of a mother’s guardianship shrunk to naught! Therefore coarse mirth is all that may be noted in their manners and naught but jesting heard, with sly winks and ceaseless chatter. Wantonness shews in their gait, only silliness in their behaviour. So much does the extravagance of their dress depart from the old simplicity that in the enlargement of their sleeves, the straitness of their skirts, the distortion of their shoes of Cordovan leather with their curling toes, they seem to proclaim that everywhere shame is a castaway A lack of lovers to admire her is a woman’s crown of woe. On her crowds of thronging suitors rests her claim to nobility and courtly pride. There was of old time, I call God to witness, greater modesty in married men, who would have blushed to be seen in the company of such women, than there is now in married women; and men by such shameful conduct are emboldened in their amours abroad and driven to haunt the marketplace and the public street."
Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) in his Book of the Courtier (Part II) said:
"I have often considered not without wonder whence arises a fault, which, as it is universally found among old people, may be believed to be proper and natural to them. And this is, that they nearly all praise bygone times and censure the present, inveighing against our acts and ways and everything which they in their youth did not do; affirming too that every good custom and good manner of living, every virtue, in short every thing, is always going from bad to worse.
And verily it seems quite contrary to reason and worthy to be wondered at, that ripe age, which in other matters is wont to make men’s judgment more perfect with long experience, should in this matter so corrupt it that they do not perceive that if the world were always growing worse, and if fathers were generally better than children, we should long since have reached that last grade of badness beyond which it is impossible to grow worse."
Will Self wrote in the Guardian:
"A major strand in this book [by Rod Liddle] is of the fings-ain't-what-they-used-to-be variety: Liddle is teary-eyed at the thought of the parsimonious, stoical and patriotic lives his lower-middle-class parents led; he feels that we (and he includes himself) have squandered our inheritance, both moral and financial. But what's most significant about his parents – and he identifies this on page one – is that they were racists, and perhaps he should face facts: sometimes the "indigenous" baby needs to be chucked out with the dirty-minded bathwater."