From Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society

“Central planning is just one of a more general class of social decision-making processes dependent on the underlying assumption that people with more per capita knowledge (in the special sense) should be guiding their societies.  Other forms of this general notion include judicial activism, urban planning, and other institutional expressions of the belief that social decisions cannot be left to be determined by the actions and values of the less knowledgeable population at large.  But if no one has even one percent of all the knowledge in a society – in the larger sense in which many different kinds of knowledge are consequential – then it is crucial that the other 99 percent of knowledge, scattered in small and individually unimpressive amounts among the population at large, be allowed the freedom to be used in working out mutual accommodations among the people themselves. These innumerable interactions and mutual accommodations are what bring the other 99 percent of knowledge into play – and generate new knowledge in the process of back and forth bids, reflecting changes in supply and demand.”

“That is why free markets, judicial restraint, and reliance on decisions and traditions growing out of the experiences of the many – rather than the presumptions of an elite few – are so important to those who do not share the social vision prevalent among intellectual elites.  In short, ideological fault lines divide those who have different conceptions of the meaning of knowledge, and who consequently see knowledge as being concentrated or dispersed.  “In general, ‘the market’ is smarter than the smartest of its individual participants,” is the way the late Robert L. Bartley, editor of the Wall Street Journal, expressed his belief that the systemic process can bring into play more knowledge for decision-making purposes, through the interactions and mutual accommodations of many individuals, than any one of those individuals possesses.”