In my simplification and modification of the developmental-evolution in human consciousness which I got from the schemata of Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield; the phase that preceded the modern was called the Intellectual Soul. This is seen in the purest form in the long transitional phase of the Medieval kind of society - that is a 'middle' age between the early and simple forms of subsistence agriculture and the beginnings of modernity and industrialisation.
The characteristic of the Intellectual Soul is a fixed, apparently objective, symbolic and ritual system; which we see in the division of society into Warriors, Priests and Peasants - with the functional middle class divided into relatively few-and-fixed professions (e.g. Law, Medicine) and Guilds/ Craft Mysteries.
Intellectually, we see the grand, general, universal symbolic schemes of Cosmology with Astrology, with planets and stars that are also beings - each with its own associated traits, functions, metals, etc; hierarchies of angels and so forth. The philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is another example - a grand system and synthesis.
Anyway, part of this was what I am terming 'telepathy' - which is that people were in (non-voluntary) telepathic contact with other people, and with angels. From the modern perspective people were not 'atomised', people could not insulate themselves from influence from other minds - and each person's mind fed-into the group - and each group was linked with and administered by a specific angel.
This, I believe is what made it possible for institutions to have personhood - and at many levels. There was the person of the kingdom, the church, and within that of the orders and organisation of the church, going down to (something like) archangels who administered small groups. Indeed, every group that met and interacted would come under the administration of an archangel (or a demon) - through which the group members with be in 'telepathic' contact, have a cohesive will, and be 'nested' into all other functions and into the hierarchy.
In the Intellectual Soul era, telepathic contact could be willed. People could undergo formal, standard, procedural 'initiations' - and by such 'systems' develop of enhance their telepathic capcities.
However, this necessity dwindled first into a possibility and then an impossibility. First the telepathy became non-spontaneous, but it could potentially be willed. By effort, practice - and especially when a group could be gathered that would all make an effort, and all practice - then telepathic groupishness was maintained for a few generations more.
But over the past few decades, even this has diminished towards not happening. To the typical modern mind, groupishness has become merely 'wishful thinking', a matter of people 'fooling themselves', or lying about it. The development of human consciousness has meant that each individual became 'free', an agent, autonomous - free whether he liked it or not!
Nowadays we cannot form 'telepathic' groups in the way that used to happen - or, at least, this capacity becomes both rarer and weaker than in the past. Methods, techniques, procedures are no longer general. Each must find his own path. All forms of institution - from the state, through all its divisions, have declined in their spontaneous and intrinsic reality.
Instead, we have a mixture of the state of spontaneous, cut-off individualism on the one hand; and arbitrary but imposed bureaucratic groupishness - so that all groups (large and small) are (compared with the past) intrinsically weak, hence unstable, hence they are easily-changed and often-changing (like the typical modern 'managed' corporation - with its annual 're-organisations').
This change has first weakened, then limited, and for many people destroyed the possibility of living primarily in a communal way - such as used to be normal and almost universal in the past.
(The only exception is the family, which is a natural and love-based - not institutional and telepathy-based- group. The family is - if allowed by the system, and if its members resist the system - perhaps closer and more loving than at any point in the past - which is not to say that it is longer lasting; it is maintained if, but only if, the family members choose (and keep choosing) to make it so. because, of course anybody can opt-out of the family, and many do.)
So... this is my understanding of why many groupish things that were possible in tha past - even just thirty years ago - have become relatively ineffectual or (for many people) actually impossible. Systems of symbols have lost their effect, rituals have lost their effect; regularly-meeting groups no longer develop a real communal or corporate identity - that is, they no longer attract archangels (or, if they do, the angels are no longer in telepathic contact with the members, binding them to the angel and to each other).
This is where we find our-selves: here, now - in The West.
We are - on the one hand - cut off from each other, willy-nilly; on the other hand - and this is the divine purpose of this development - we are very-fully free agents in a way that was never possible before.
We are indeed compelled to be free. We are free as a matter of fact.
Actually free and therefore we are responsible for our-selves... like-it-or-not, and clearly most people do Not like it.
We see, indeed, a truly vast evasion and denial of this responsibility - with epic usage of mass and social media, mass deliberate intoxication or mind-blunting, and refusal to think beyond the sound-bite.
People try to evade and deny their absolute responsibility by claiming that they are compelled to think such and such, or that they must think such and such, or that they cannot be blamed for thinking such and such, or that morality dictates that they ought to think such and such...
But all this is a lie, and they know it.
This applies everywhere, to all forms of knowing - including religion. Religion now Just Is between our-selves and God, primarily. Without group-telepathy; simple obedience no longer happens and cannot with integrity be simulated.
We are all making choices, all the time - and the refusal to choose from-our-selves is merely one of those choices.
There are no excuses anymore.