… is from page 179 of the reprint of Harold Demsetz’s devastating review of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The New Industrial State; this review – entitled “The Technostructure, Forty-Six Years Later” – originally appeared in the March 1968 issue of the Yale Law Journal, and is reprinted in volume II of the 1989 collection of some of Demsetz’s most important articles, Efficiency, Competition, and Policy (original emphasis):
Beware the intellectual who seeks power over our decisions and over the persuasion to which we can respond, especially when he seeks this power to prevent us from doing what he thinks we should not desire to do.
Wise words. Timeless ones, too. Although some minor differences separate the case that J.K. Galbraith made long-ago for discounting the ability of ordinary people to choose for themselves from the case that George Akerlof and Robert Shiller make today for the same discounting of the choices of ordinary people, the intellectual arrogance and hubris of these intellectuals remain as intense and as dangerous as always.