I use the past tense here, because this happened in the second half of the 19th Century. in the Industrial North – Northern Europe and North America. I will concentrate on America.
America had gone from being an Enlightenment project – to the most Industrialized nation in the world. A huge change, and one we were not entirely comfortable with. The Enlightenment ideals were noble, but the Industrial ideals were crass “Get more power, make more money, grab more land!”
One hundred years later – America still struggles with this problem. How to be wealthy, and how to be good – at the same time. We were unable to solve this problem – and in disgust, turned against ourselves – and started destroying ourselves. A powerful process that is still going on.
We had gone from constructing a nation – to destructing it. While being completely unaware of this.
I was aware of this (vaguely) when I was in High School, in the Fifties. Our teachers did not like us – and our parents agreed with them “Punish the little rascals!” This was also the attitude at work (in the Office) where people had become superhuman (they thought) – and hated any humans in their midst.
One result of this, was the reaction against Science – a big part of the Enlightenment project. Science was about seeing things as they were – and they didn’t want to see that!
Is the situation impossible? No, because it is so complex, and unstable. The situation now is bad – no question about that. But the human race is not going to disappear – and may eventually solve their problems.
It may dawn on them that they have to change fundamentally – much as they hate to. They might like being good. Stranger things have happened.