Civilization must progress in the fields of technology, industry and commerce. But by its very nature such a civilization cannot serve the well-being of humanity in the physical world; it can only prove destructive to the human being. This will be an unpalatable truth for people who never tire of making great speeches on the tremendous advances made in modern civilization.
I have made brief reference to the causes of destruction in Atlantis. The commercial, industrial and technological civilization which is now in its beginnings harbours elements which will lead to the decline and fall. And we only see things straight and face reality if we admit that we are here beginning to work on something which must lead to catastrophe. This is what it means to enter into iron necessity. It is not a matter of avoiding things but of getting a clear picture, real insight into the iron necessities of human evolution. Human beings will need to live with inner impulses which they still prefer to ignore today, for these go against the good life they want.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the spirits of darkness – Lecture 4: The Elemental Spirits of Birth and Death – Dornach, 6 October 1917