Karl Llewellyn used to re-read Treasure Island on his birthday every year. I have sometimes transposed that ritual to Christmas Day. However, on December 24, 2005, I received an unsolicited parcel containing a gift of David Westbrook’s City of Gold. So I decided to read that instead. City of Gold is far richer fare than Treasure Island, and I am still digesting it. However, I have at least grasped that Westbrook has presented us with an imagined world society that differs significantly from the impoverished visions of world capitalism, human rights, apocalyptic fears of global hegemony, and other inadequate imaginings.
Westbrook’s paper extends his account further by outlining four ways of imagining modern authority in tomorrow’s global society—imperium, fashion, system, and tribe. I understand this to be an aid to thinking about diffusion of law in three ways: First, to help us break away from spatial metaphors that link law to the territorial state; second, to present globalization not as some totalizing and homogenizing set of processes, but “as the formation of new contexts, new social spaces, and indeed, new hierarchies”; and third, to interpret diffusion of law as a typically benign method of bringing about adoption, adaptation, or modernization in response to changing conditions.
I am generally sympathetic to Westbrook’s thesis and I find his four perspectives on authority helpful. In the time available I shall attempt to contrast his rich and bold imaginings with my own, more articularistic perspective on the discourses and metaphors of globalization and diffusion.
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