Competition is as necessary an element of progress as is risk. At the most fundamental level the product of competition is efficiency, and consequntly, exploitation. The former is obviously beneficial (though not universally desirable) and the latter is viewed as evil. One of the tasks essential to a functioning society is to manage competition in such a manner that reaps its benefits and avids its pitfalls.
People who decry capitalism as a great evil do so because the competition for capital, left unchecked results in exploitation. A fallacy arises however when one assumes that eliminating competition will eliminate exploitation. This is almost never the case, and goes a long way toward explaining the rise of and failures of totalitarianism.
Not everyone agrees that efficiency is a desirable thing. There is a school of thought that considers the relentless pursuit of effeciency dehumanizing. Efficiency is unavoidable to progress however, and is in fact the underlying principle of evolution in virtually all systems, biological, economic, political, etc. Efficiency is simpy a measure of how much of something that is desirable can be produced per unit of something that is useful. Competition identifies the objectively superior system, as opposed to "planning" which seeks to prescribe it from the outset.
The explicit encouragement of competition is one reason why Anglo-American technological progress has been so impressive, while more theoretically appealing alternatives have been found wanting. Capitalism is not perfect, and can lead to abuses, but it is responsible for far more "progress" than its utopian counterparts (which are responsible for plenty of abuses of their own.)