This is a very interesting essay. It provides good capsule summaries of two antagonistic life philosophies—roughly individual and communitarian value systems. As capsulized they represent extremes, which aids simple critiques such as this.

I see first from the essay a tension between evolution of the human animal, and the evolution of human institutions. This is the same tension as between the evolution between organisms and the evolution of the super-organism. I claim that both are fruitful perspectives, in both individual-institution case and the organism-superorganism case.

To confuse the issue humans are biologically partly gregarious and partly loners. If the long term plan is generally towards the superorganism, then individualism should be receding. That is not what I see. Even Brooks refers to the institutional values as “an older way of living”.

A naïve reading of this suggests that institutions improve only by dying and yielding to newer institutions that had accidentally accreted different patterns. (Variation and survival of the fittest) I think human institutions often improve thru the efforts of Harvard educated leaders, sometimes even thru the suggestion box from Harvard educated employees.

Still Hayek has made some good points.

Personally I was never a joiner and I favor the Harvard model.

With our big brain we can imagine the consequences of our actions and avoid bad outcomes. This helps both individuals and institutions.