The nation is moving away from the self-interest that marked 1980s as the "me decade," as Americans again turn toward public purpose over private interest, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. says.

Schlesinger, an assistant to President John F. Kennedy, said in a speech at Miami University that a growing sense of selflessness fits into a historical rhythm.

Schlesinger said the 1980s will go down as an era of vulgar consumption, towering debt, leveraged buyouts and widespread crookedness in both the private and public sectors, but he predicted a sharp change in the national mood around 1990.

"Already there seems to be the start of revulsion against greed and the start of a revival of idealism on college campuses, of community service and a revived concern for social justice," he said.