History does only move in one direction, but one can know little about this direction if he fails to understand the nature of titanic undercurrents which move the world on, that facilitate the change over time to an end that is anything but a utopia. On the cyclical view of history, we can map the phenomena of societal downfall onto civilizational downfall.
Choose any empire in the history of the world and examine it. Levels of greatness fluctuate, but always trend towards an eventual dissolution. This is the reason no empire lasts forever. They experience a natural pattern of rise and fall, from heights to destruction, beginning to end. This record of human societies has a downstream relationship to individuals which is rather profound. Consider that we begin our lives in a state of primitivism, where the structures of our lives do not come without being imposed by external actors (our parents). In our child state we do as we please, act as selfishly as possible, and run on a high time-preference. Quickly though, we reach our peak condition: our adult youth and the beginning of what you might call ‘real life’ where we become civilized and independent, with all things working to our advantage from physical fitness to problem-solving and aesthetic appeal. As we get older, these things all fade from us in a gradual decline ending in the grave. Societies too, emerge from a chaotic or primitive milieu, see their apex, and then fall into ruin.