As a thought experiment, pretend you are a complete innocent, knowing nothing about this society (I am talking here about the developed world as a whole–not just the Golden Calf that conservatives and liberals alike have made out of the United States of America, worshipping–what?–themselves? their demographic and historical good luck?–as they dance about singing its praises). After observing this society, what would you say its values are? It seems to me the first and last thing you would say would be money, and, more broadly, the refusal to believe in limits of any kind. After that, you would probably say health–that is, the refusal of mortality. And finally, you would presumably say pleasure.
Money, health, pleasure. Fine things all (I am emphatically not being ironic; they are indeed fine things). But as a basis for a civilization, for a values system? It is one thing to be selfish; it may well be hard wired into us. But stupidity isn’t, so at least we should not be stupid.