Vanderbilt Law Review


Lucian W. Pye

First Page



Even as a student of comparative politics my interests have led me more to analyzing the newly developing countries, countries which often appear to be impervious to principles about the rule of law. Out of this awareness of my limitations for this occasion, I have chosen as my theme what I feel to be a significant paradox about the role of law in the modernization process which is now engrossing the energies of the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Boldly stated, this paradox is that historically, when Western law was introduced into traditional societies with the intent of providing political order and stability, the consequence was always revolutionary social changes and tensions. Yet in the post-colonial era,when government policies have often been to accelerate social change,the weight of law has been that of a restraining and stabilizing force.