One way of characterising the history of civilisation's progress since the emergence of private property is as a history of conflict between unbridled self-interest and social ethics. So far as economic or material progress alone is concerned, self-interest (emanating from the animal instinct for self preservation) has been the dominant force. Given that material progress is meaningful for the human race as a whole only when it is subservient to social ethics, it is disconcerting to note that, in reality, what economic development has brought about seems quite the other way around.
Lal Basu, Ratan
"Material progress and ethics: A pilgrimage through time,"
Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cm/vol4/iss1/4