Adam Smith On Conceit, Central Planning, And Disorderly Society

Tyler Durden's picture

Perhaps it is worth a reminder that, while every effort by the Central-Banker-In-Chief and his political play-things to proclaim free-market omnipotence in stark contrast to the wholesale manipulation of any and every market and macro-economic lever possible, Adam Smith some 250 years ago pointed out the inevitable unintended consequences of such grand conceit. As the [central planner] seems to "imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board", the end result is that "society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder."

 

"The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamored with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it.

 

He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful.

 

If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder."

Adam Smith 1723-1790

 

(h/t Ralph C)