… is from page 50 of Bertrand de Jouvenel‘s 1956 essay “Order vs. Organization” which is chapter IV in the 1956 collection, edited by Mary Sennholz, On Freedom and Free Enterprise: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises (available without charge here):
A parade is costly; equally costly is the parade spirit with which we approach the operations of men in general. We tend to believe that society is at its best when its functioning offers to our minds a clear, distinct, and simple pattern. But the only thing then maximized is our intellectual enjoyment. We are prone to mistake our endeavors to maximize our intellectual enjoyment for the spirit of reform. But we have no warrant for the belief that a simplification of pattern that would please our minds would constitute an improvement of society, unless we define improvement as increasing coincidence of arrangements with the figures held in our mind – an extreme of intellectual pride.
DBx: Free markets by their nature are competitive, open-ended, filled with creativity, experimentation, trial and error, genuine uncertainty, and incessant change marked by unexpected failures and surprising successes. To fancy that we can know or predict about actual market operations anything other than broad patterns is the height of hubris.