… is from page 495 of Israel Kirzner’s 1998 paper “The Goals of Antitrust: A Critique,” as this paper is reprinted in the 2019 collection of some of Kirzner’s papers (edited by Peter J. Boettke and Frédéric Sautet), Reflections on Ethics, Freedom, Welfare Economics, Policy, and the Legacy of Austrian Economics (original emphases):
[I]n free markets “competition” is not a frail flower calling for protection; it is a vigorous plant that can be eliminated, under normal conditions, only by deliberate government policy (including well-meaning antitrust policies!).
Pictured above is one of the two statues by Michael Lantz of “Man Controlling Trade” that sit outside of the Federal Trade Commission’s building, where Constitution Ave. and Pennsylvania Ave. cross each other. (The statue pictured above is on Constitution Ave. The statue pictured just below is on Pennsylvania Ave.) These statues are meant to show commerce as a powerful but wild beast that, if it is to do humankind any good rather than trample upon us, must be controlled by the might of a wise and even more powerful government.
A more realistic interpretation is that the horse in both statues is market competition – vigorous and powerful indeed, yet beneficial – whose forward motion is being stalled by a steroid-muscled brute. In the Pennsylvania Ave. statue the brute is an amoral mercenary doing the bidding of undepicted special interests. In the Constitution Ave. statue, the brute is driven by ideology, but he arrogantly mistakes his braun for brain, his muscle for mind. He doesn’t see what is real yet not seen in either statue: the guiding force of hundreds of millions – today, billions – of consumers, entrepreneurs, investors, and business people, all with their hands on the reins, attempting to use, contrary to efforts of the brute, the awesome might of commerce to take them to places of ever-greater prosperity.