Libertarians and other economists neglect the possibility that government serves as a useful irritant. Government regulations are truly an impediment. No doubt about it. No doubt they make life harder for people with some power. The usual argument is they protect the weak from the powerful. Without them, the powerful would exploit the weak. Sure. They would. But that’s not all. What goes unsaid and apparently unnoticed is irritating the powerful makes them think. Pain produces thought — about how to avoid the pain. And thought increases innovation. [Emphasis added.]
This, I believe, is the heart of progressivism, modern liberalism, leftism, fascism, etc.: We must always and forever be making some sort of progress. This constant desire for change, for novelty, for titillation, for improvement of sort, this spiritual restlessness, is the foundation of leftist/progressive thought. Everything else is merely a rationalization for change.
Incidentally, this is why most progressives are either young (like most college-aged students) or why they seem to be permanently stuck in adolescence. Youth craves novelty, which is why youth and immature people are naturally progressive.
The problem with leftism, though, is that it is not principled. It favors change, and believes that change is morally good, but not once do progressives ever actually make the argument that change is morally good. They assert that change is an unfettered good, but the argument is usually circular. (What is good? Change. What is change? Good.) Progressivism assumes that which must be proven, which is why most all objections to progressivism are met with the rejoinder that, “you just hate change.”
Incidentally, progressivism is absolutely essential for building society; conservatism cannot generate change by trying to preserve the status quo.* The problem, though, is that progressives, once they build society, are only ever left with tearing it down again and starting from scratch. Progressivism is a political perpetual motion machine, for once it solves all the problems, it creates new ones from scratch so as to have something to do.
Once upon a time, man lived in thatched huts and absolute squalor. The progressives dreamed of a way to live in nice house and opulent wealth. This dream has roughly occurred from the middles ages to the 1950s, at least in Western society. But now that wealth and opulence—the likes of which the world has not ever seen—has been attained, the new progressive vision is that we should all return to our pastoral roots, and live in squalor and poverty once more. They cannot help this impulse, for they simply crave change. When poor, they want wealth; when wealthy, they want poverty.
Thus, it should be clear that progressivism is an intellectual dead because it cannot think in terms of principles, only actions. And the only action is change. The moral and emotional validations for change are intellectual window dressing. They are vapid and inane attempts at adult philosophy. Progressives simply want change, and will say or do anything to get what they want. They are not to be trusted with power because they will not wield it with principle.
* Though conservatives can maintain achievements once said achievements are attained.