When I was in college I remember hearing some progressives described as driven by the view that history was going to progress onward and upward to a greater level of perfection. This sort of Hegelian view of history implies that the progress of politics and history will lead, partly through the agency of the state, to a greater level of freedom and development.
I guess personally I pegged most labor unions and organizations of that nature as part of the progressive movement, partly because they try to work with and through government as a means to advance their own ends.
In contrast, the conservative would stereotypically be the stodgy person dragging their feet in an attempt to maintain the status quo.
Rich Karlgaard’s Forbes article about Obama’s second term changes the lens a little bit and makes you wonder if things aren’t flipped from the stereotypes. The progressive movement in their quest to radically change the world and progress to a better future has somehow become politically connected with government unions and others, which according to Karlgaard are actually more interested in preserving the past than trusting that the future will be better.
By some strange twist of fate, the economic conservatives have actually become the optimists. The economic conservative has enough faith in the future and the free market at work that they don’t cling to outdated industries and models when they seem to lose their feasibility. The conservative embraces Karlgaard’s idea of “dynamism” and change as a positive force. For them, the end of one era doesn’t mean the potential end of the world, it makes room for new growth and even more prosperity.