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Unveiling the Power Play Between Lions and Foxes

Would you rather be a lion or a fox?

I just went down the best Internet rabbit hole—and it’s full of allegorical animals!

I didn’t know that Pareto (the “80/20 guy”) is also known for using the analogy of lions and foxes to describe that elite 20% that tends to hold 80% of assets.

You might think about lions as King of the Jungle, and all the stereotypes about nature and force that come with that idea. But for Pareto, lions represent rigid self-interest, simplistic solutions, force, coercion, conservatism, and top-down authoritarianism. He adapts the analogy from Machiavelli. Foxes grow and hold power by persuading, influencing, and negotiating. They thrive within complexity and relativism.

Lions accumulate, and foxes combine. Machiavelli says you need to be both to survive. Isaiah Berlin opposes foxes to hedgehogs based on a fragment from the poet Archilochus. Wide-ranging breadth, or a central idea. Similar distinctions, but different animals.

Either way, most of the time, I’d rather be a fox. And, of course, now I have several more books on my list to read.

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