There is a shape to history (human, and ultimately planetary history) - but the shape is not seen in the usual focus of historians, but in the history of consciousness.
History has a direction - and intended direction; which is to say a purpose. But that destiny can be paused or diverted.
The direction cannot, however, be reversed.
Because we are talking of consciousness we cannot ever go-back. Adolescents behaving like children may perhaps be better than them remaining as perpetual adolescents; but adolescents behaving like children are not the same as children, because they have been-through childhood.
What drives the current and recent development of human consciousness are unconscious-impulses - instincts - that affect Men. These impulses originate in the divine, and they are intended to be spiritual impulses: that is, instincts intended to eventuate in the spiritual realm.
That is, these driving instincts are referenced to goals in ultimate, eternal and spiritual reality (which is that universal reality of divine creation which we may access and participate-in by the Primary Thinking of our real self).
But when Men refuse to acknowledge the reality of the spiritual realm, will not recognise the divine-within, and will not think from their real self with agency and awareness...
Then these divine impulses will remain unconscious, and will become manifested in the material realm instead of the spiritual realm. What was intended to be a spiritual development of consciousness is then distorted into a parodic idol; hellish instead of heavenly.
For example; the divine spiritual impulse was for men to recognise - to know by direct apprehension, that we ouselves and all men have a partly-divine nature as children of God, and that our destiny is to live by loving participation in universal creating-reality.
The materialist distortion is socialism, communism, Leftism in its many manifestations as it has grown over the past couple of centuries (from early roots in pacifism); that is The System aspiring towards total ideological propaganda, monitoring and control; externally to impose a hellish materialist parody of the divine impulses.
The consequent materialist parody is most clearly seen in the modern results of the sexual revolution. The divine impulse for the development of consciousness in relation to sexual morality (as for all virtues, and the pursuit of beauty and truth) was that these universal realities become apprehended directly by conscious intuition, and freely lived-by in recognition of their Goodness. Instead the modern world has a literally-hellish materialist parody of sex and sexuality - legalistically defined, ever-more prescribed and imposed, justified and sustained by lies.
So, the malaise and malignancy of modernity can be seen as a consequence of rejecting divine destiny; and this rejection is possible because the destiny entails that what was unconscious becomes conscious, what was obeyed because of authority becomes known-as-Good, and what was known-about becomes known-directly...
All of which requires individual agency and personal effort. Nobody and nothing can make us do this. Indeed, we cannot even learn from experience what to do, so long as we continue to hold to materialism, or indeed to hope for a return to an earlier era of unconscious obedience to external (benign, parental) authority.
We are in a situation where we cannot stay-the-same (because we are a slippery-slope to hell-on-earth) nor go backwards, and spiritually growing-up is the only Good possibility.
Yet we must choose this, each for himself or herself. We must understand and we must learn; and this takes effort; it will not 'just-happen'.
On the positive side; if we do understand, and do learn, and then choose - we will succeed. Because we will be following the divinely-destined path, will be fuelled and directed by those spiritual impulses and instincts I described at the beginning.
So nothing can stop us.
The above is my re-expression of a lecture of Rudolf Steiner from 1918, which I have often written about, sometimes translated as The work of the angels in Man's astral body. It is probably significant that Owen Barfield assisted in the English translation of this lecture, published in 1960. Certainly, there seem to be resonance of Steiner's prophecies in Barfield's works from Saving the Appearances (1957) onwards; and especially in the sexual dystopia described in Night Operation (written in the middle 1970s and published in 1984).