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Tully and de Soto on Uniformity and Diversity

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James Tully sees the emergence of modern constitutionalism as the intellectual legacy of writers such as Hobbes, Bodin and Locke. For Tully, modern constitutionalism not only centralizes authority, it also excludes diversity. Tully’s work represents a significant part of the growing antipathy towards uniformity and the universalising tendencies of the modern organization, which, he believes, underwrite a loss of local empowerment. In this respect his thinking and that of the communitarians is consistent with contemporary disenchantment with, not to mention resistance to globalization. Globalization, or the tendency to inter-national uniformity in culture and increasing integration into a global system of economics and power, appears to promote an analogous universalising conformity across borders, while centralizing economic if not political power and control in certain trans-national corporations. Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian economist, gives us a very different perspective on the motley of overlapping jurisdictions and argues that diversity of systems, customs and rules with respect to property has conspired to maintain the entrenched poverty of the developing world. He argues that it is the unified, codified and integrated systems of the West that have allowed these societies to mobilize capital to escape the endemic widespread poverty of the pre-capitalist age. In the course of this paper I seek to compare and evaluate the competing claims of Tully and de Soto.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Humanities & Social Sciences, University of Papua New Guinea

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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