We can ask: Why did this widespread disaster overcome the world? (Steiner refers to the first world war.) Indeed, the ultimate reason is that the interests of people have become so superficial that it scarcely reaches beyond the most mundane. Of course, if people cease to be interested in the stars, they start to be interested in chatting in cafés; when the human being stops pondering his relationship to the higher hierarchies, the longing to waste his time with commonplace play awakens. One only needs to look at the interests which satisfy the leading circles of humanity, see what these people do from morning till evening! And if one looks at this with understanding, then one will not be surprised that such a debacle as has happened, overcame humanity. After all, people are happy these days when they can define one thing or another with ease, characterise a concept in just a few words! They are pleased when something or other is easy to understand.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 190 – Vergangenheits- und Zukunftsimpulse im sozialen Geschehen – Dornach, March 30, 1919 (page 103)
Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger