What exactly (or even approximately) is the body of work and writings that describe the principles which undergird modern progressive policies of governance? What is the â€œcanonâ€ to which these modern adherents refer? They rant on and on about the inadequacies of free market economics and self government based on individual liberty, seeming to prefer a king or an unrealizable utopia (both quests will likely gain them a tyranny â€“ but I digress). Seriously, upon what reasoned thought do they base their claims, plans, and policies?
Alternatively, consider that the American conservative school of thought has a rich and varied library of foundational materials which span several hundred years and which contains contributions from many including (among others):
-The Wealth of Nations â€“ Adam Smith 
-Economic Sophisms , The Law * - Frederic Bastiat
-The Road to Serfdom -Friedrich von Hayek  *
-Economics in One Lesson â€“ Henry Hazlitt  *
-Planning for Freedom , Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
â€“ Ludwig von Mises
-Founder's writings including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence *
-Capitalism and Freedom â€“ Milton Friedman 
-Federalist Papers â€“ Madison, Hamilton, Jay 
-Mere Christianity -- CS Lewis  *
-Common Sense â€“ Thomas Paine  *
-Atlas Shrugged -- Ayn Rand 
-The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism â€“ Friedrich Hayek 
-Considerations on Representative Government -- John Stuart Mill 
-5000 Year Leap -- W. Cleon Skousen  *
-Separation of Church & State -- What the Founders Meant â€“ David Barton  *
-Intellectuals and Society -- Thomas Sowell 
-Money, Greed, and God â€“ Jay Richards  *
-Liberty and Tyranny â€“ Mark Levin  *
* - quite readable
The progressive who wishes to implement alternative/contradictory schemes of government must either ignore or refute this list (and the many other volumes which could easily appear here) and substitute his own. Where is such a list?
Will they offer up the discredited economic policies of Marx which have been accompanied by unimaginable human suffering and brutality in virtually every implementation? Perhaps they would again cite Keynes, whose wealth & income transfer schemes only masquerade as an economic system because they create nothing (except dependency) and in fact hinder wealth creation. Maybe they would recommend the agitation and lawlessness of Alinsky or perhaps the government-centric ideas of Woodrow Wilson which respects neither individual rights nor allows opposition to state policies.
Nearly any of which would expose such liberal promoters to committing the central fallacy of flawed thinking in this areaand in almost any area of policy; namely:
â€œThe art of economics consists on looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.â€ -Economics in One Lesson â€“ Henry Hazlitt 1946
And why do such errors get repeated so frequently and with such fervor by the left? It is so because of a feature that seldom befalls those in the practice of other sciences â€“ namely self-interest.
â€œWhile certain public policies would benefit all groups other policies would benefit one group at the expense of all other groups...The group that will benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently.... And it will finally (using the hiring of the best buy-able minds wholly devoted to the task) either convince the general public that it's case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossibleâ€ Economics in One Lesson â€“ Henry Hazlitt 1946
[Bastiat made similar discussions in his brief â€œWhat Is Seen and What Is Not Seenâ€.]
Do we not see exactly this sort of identity politics strategy utilized almost daily by the modern progressive left, to continually promote a special benefit or subsidy here or demand a special tariff or penalty there?
One is reminded of a Reagan speech â€œA Time for Choosingâ€ from October 1964 (video)(text) where he reminds us â€œWell, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.â€œ
The intellectual bankruptcy of the left toward such matters is frequently manifested as we can see in considering three recent examples. First the Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi(D-CA) could not or would not identify the legal basis for the individual mandate in the health care legislation. Next, Representative Weiner (D-NY) refused to identify the basis for a federal estate tax. Lastly, the Atty General of Connecticut Richard Blumenthal could not state the actual law he would use to pursue the return of bonuses paid to AIG employees. The inability of these and other progressive politicians to consider much less rigorously apply matters of constitutional authority, property rights, and the very nature of the rule of law in their deliberations and discussions exposes in a breath-taking fashion their lack of scholarship and absence of foundational materials upon which to buttress their views.
Will they again continue to commit the Hazlitt fallacy and simplistically identify a villain group to be punished or a noble group supposedly â€œwrongedâ€ and concoct a policy 'remedy' regardless of what long term impacts there are just because it is politically sell-able? Such a strategy is similar to asking a kid if he wants ice cream for supper. He will continually agree to such a menu while ignoring the long term consequences of his choices. The same is true for the continued progressive support for continually increasing thoughtless regulations, enhanced union featherbedding and other inefficiencies, continual zeal for an evermore progressive tax policy, and continually increased administrative costs 'required' by the federal government.
The left seemingly would rather promote personalities before policies, and policies before principles. The personality is an icon often devoid of substance [A potential leader might be handsome, well-spoken, and seeming articulate but such qualities yield no information about such a candidate's ability to govern effectively and lawfully]. A policy requires a basis in fact, reason, or logic without which it is only an arbitrary edict which while it may enjoy the rule of law would fail to gain the support of common sense [A policy of using tissue paper based roofing material or ethanol fuel sources are both doomed to fail for they lack a basis in reason for their use regardless of their level of political support achieved]. Only principles that have been tested and proven, that reflect truth and real world evidences can be relied upon.
So, I ask again with all seriousness, what is the body of work (and writings) that support progressive policies? List the works. Let us all compare them (whatever they are) to the above conservative collection (a library of liberty if you will). Show us why progressive thinking is superior.
Finally a challenge to all progressive adherents. I challenge you to read and become familiar with the above conservative writings and remain a progressive. I contend such a choice is not intellectually honest or possible.
[BTW, some may quarrel with my list choices for a conservative canon. Some better choices might well be made but the real point is to ask what it is that is the progressive alternative.]