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"I know only too well that this is not a flag under which idealistic and enthusiastic young men and women may wish to march—it seems too tame, too reasonable, too bourgeois, it does not engage the generous emotions"

Berlin perfectly lays out the issue with fox-like thinking: it's incredibly boring. Even the point of this article - that pluralistic foxes are always better - is actually a hedgehog-like statement in its certainty.

Hedgehogs are always going to more easily capture attention and compel action. Hedgehogs and the search for overarching ideals are here to stay. To avoid the tragedy of the 20th century, foxes will need to work with, not ignore, hedgehogs, and to direct hedgehog idealism towards pluralistic ends. From Wilson to Reagan, idealism has its uses. Recognizing the need for balance between hedgehogs and foxes is the key to ensuring pluralism is allowed to thrive.

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Unfortunately we have a lot of monists setting the agenda these days. All suffering is the result of "oppression," all oppression results from "isms," and all we need is to give the right totalitarians enough power to forceably reeducate everyone. We're definitely seen this movie before.

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Thanks for this essay. Quite a few years ago, I read a biography of Berlin in which his ideas on incommensurability were described. Although not mentioned in today’s piece, it is the term that describes the underlying paradox addressed here.

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In a modern nation state, there is always tension between the constant effort at reforging national identity and at protecting the rights of minorities and dissenters. With foxes in charge, that tension is kept at a minimum allowing growth, dissent, and relative peace. With hedgehogs in charge, the tension can only grow with the risk of the nation splitting violently into factions and finally mini-states.

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