A fascinating discussion is taking place over at James Robertson's site on globalization, labor, and progress. Below is a duplication of my most recent comment I added there.
Could things be worse? Heck yes. I agree they have been worse. Can things change for the better? Yes. How? Good question. That requires unselfishness to generally take a higher priority than selfishness.
We are genetically predisposed to selfishness. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It got a lot of us to a pretty good place. What's not clear to me is how well selfishness will get us to the next level.
Have we run out of room for selfishness as the driver for "progress"? Have we run out of room for our current definition of "progress" itself?
Are we at a point where for anyone to survive in the long-term more people have to adapt to "unselfishness" as a driver? Why are so many of our mainstream religions apparently based on unselfishness, and yet we do not seem to be predisposed to unselfishness beyond a relatively small group of people, especially those closely related to our own DNA?
Why is it easy to be "globally" unselfish as a result of relatively minor events like the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and yet significantly more difficult to be unselfish as a result of ongoing major events such as the daily rate of deaths due to hunger, or even aids, or malaria?
There are a lot of fascinating questions about how we got here and how we get to the next step. One could argue we are on a good path. On the other hand one could argue we are not, by and large. It's hard to tell.