… is from pages 237-238 of Israel M. Kirzner’s 1979 collection, Perception, Opportunity, and Profit; specifically, it’s from Kirzner’s 1978 essay “Entrepreneurship, Choice, and Freedom” (original emphasis; footnote omitted):
A free society is one in which individuals are free to discover for themselves the available range of alternatives. In his masterly critiques of the theory of central planning, Hayek directed attention to the circumstance that the information available in an economy is always scattered among countless individuals, never concentrated in the mind of a single central planner. Hayek pointed to the need for a social institutional structure capable of organizing the scattered scraps of available information so they can be used for the efficient allocation of society’s resources. The competitive market, Hayek showed us, is a discovery process, one in which society discovers what options are feasible and how important they are.
Here’s a short video of Prof. Kirzner speaking yesterday evening at the Mason Inn (at George Mason University); the occasion was a celebration, sponsored by the Mercatus Center and GMU Econ, of Prof. Kirzner’s lifetime of achievement. (HT Alex Chafuen) The folks on the panel are, from Prof. Kirzner’s left: Mario Rizzo, Pete Boettke, me, and Peter Klein.