Arnold Kling is trolling, and Tyler Cowen rises to the bait:
Marginal Revolution: What is progressivism?: Arnold Kling asks this question, so I thought I'd try a stab at it, but trying to cast progressivism in the best possible light. Of course my answer is not exclusive to Arnold's, as we might both be right about the elephant. From an outsider's perspective, here is my take on what progressives believe or perhaps should believe...
The problem is that neither Kling nor Cowen anchors their discussion in a single word written or said by a single person who is in any sense an actual living (or dead) "pwogwessive." So each sets up an empty box and labels it with what he dislikes (in Kling's case) or likes (in Cowen's). The overall effect is like those famous lines from Henry IV:
"I can characterize pwogwessives fwom the Vasty Deep!"
"Why, so can I, and so can any man. But does anybody interesting fit your characterization?"
In order for this sort of exercise to be useful, you need to first name a canonical pwogwessive--or name a canonical group of thinkers and assert that "pwogwessivism" is what they all have in common, or at least their first principal component in some metric. And then you have to buttress that naming and assertion. After all, classical liberalism is John Locke and John Stuart Mill. Classical conservatism is the unholy offspring of Thomas Carlyle, Joseph de Maistre, and Edmund Burke. Classical Marxism is Vladimir Lenin. But modern pwogwessivism: Is it Barbara Ehrenreich? Joe Stiglitz? Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? Larry Mishel? John Rawls?