The idea that culture progresses (toward) is problematic. I suspect this represents more of a desire to progress than anything else. This position probably underlies most technologic notions of society that prevail today.
If one rejects the idea of a telos, novelty becomes nothing more than an aberrance. In other words, what is new by no means marks a transition toward something better. It is simply a manifestation of otherness, and evidence of the creative will toward freedom.
There is a sense, however, that history retroactively validates the trends which have prevailed. A led to B led to C; because C is, then A was good. This is only a valid ethical argument if one assumes the telos.