Resolving Racism and other conflicts with LOs. - Part 1 LO27232

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 09/04/01

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to you all.

This is a complex contribution. Please hit the ESC key if necessary.

Furthermore, I have a serious problem what stance to follow in it. A soft
diction might be interpreted as superficial whereas a bold diction might
be seen as preaching a cult. I also want to make you fellow learners aware
of many mental models, but I do not want to precipitate another mental
model. I want to share with you on this topic my thoughts spanning almost
my entire life, but much of it will appear to be speculative. Thus please
use the following information merely for your own brain storming.

I want to tell you about unconditional love, but I also have to wade
through hate. I am deeply aware that I will not succeed in this task if I
cannot reckon on your humaneness. We are more than animals since we carry
the breath of the divine in us. This places an immense responsibility on
us because knowing the divine also implies knowing the demoniac. Please
forgive me where I fail in keeping the harmony.

The end of this month the third international congress on racism will be
held in South Africa. (Actually, at the time of mailing this contribution
the congress has been going on for a couple of days.) Already some nations
like the USA and Israel are accused of racism. Yet some of the accusing
nations allow political or religious persecutions in their own country.
What will become of this congress with such a judgemental beginning as
well as double standards? Will any learning during the congress be

I have observed far too many events in which a judgemental attitude made
learning virtually impossible. Should I now claim in advance that little
learning will happen during this congress, am I not judgemental too? I can
wait until after the congress and observe whether any learning happened.
Should little learning happened as I expect, would my observation of it
still be judgemental? Must I therefore keep my mouth shut, or should I
rather engage in a dialogue to explore with fellow learners what we each
know? In what manner should this dialogue be to avoid that it follows the
same judgemental course as the congress?

I think that a judgemental attitude manifest itself in a person when that
person is aware that certain mental outcomes will be destructive rather
than constructive AS WELL AS that this person is also not capable of
changing these outcomes from the destructive to the constructive. Because
of this incapacity for constructive creativity, little, if any, higher
spiritual activities are possible. This includes learning, the first
higher spiritual activity to emerge from constructive creativity.
Consequently, to avoid being judgemental, we will have to create
constructively so as to learn.

To create constructively we will have to be aware of the 7Es (seven
essentialities of creativity) AS WELL AS increasing in each of them. The
7Es are liveness, sureness, wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness, otherness
and openness. Let us take wholeness as example. Although I may be aware of
wholeness, should I not increase in wholeness, how can I create a greater
mental whole from lesser wholes? How can I learn from that greater whole
when it does not exist because I could not create it? The most which I can
do, is to memorise information produced by others who did create that
greater whole and hence learned from it. Furthermore, this information
will merely dissipate in my mind rather than becoming digestively part of
my knowledge since it requires increasing wholeness which I do not have.
Hence the most which I can do is to regurgitate that information, usually
much inferior and deformed to that which I had received.

The endless increase in the 7Es are reflected in two laws, the LRC (Law of
Requisite Complexity) and the LSC (Law of Singularity of Complexity). The
LRC tells that a person must increase SPONTANEOUSLY in complexity by
steps. In each step at least one of the 7Es has to increase. The person
cannot skip a number of steps. Should some steps be skipped, that person
will encounter complexity as a solid wall, keeping him/her back. On the
other hand, when he/she takes each step, the next step to be taken becomes
an open door to that person. Thus the LRC defines a fractal path by which
the person increases in all the 7Es. This is the only way I know in which
we can become friends of most complex God Love.
We are fortunate that Senge in the appendix to the Fifth Discipline
describes the eleven essences of a LO. We may combine them in such a
manner that they resemble the 7Es. Thus we may conclude that even LOs have
to focus on constructive creativity to be able to practise its five
disciplines. A LO cannot avoid contentious issues. This would be a
deliberate impairing of all 7Es. For example, by avoiding a contentious
issue, increasing wholeness would become restricted. Hence learning
becomes seriously retarded. Eventually the LO will degenerate back into an
OO (Ordinary Organisation).

Racism is a contentious issue. Some countries have a homogenous
population, all inhabitants belonging to one race and culture. Thus their
organisations will also be homogenous so that racism within them will not
be a contentious issue. However, in a world which has become the "global
village", many of these organisations will have to deal with other
organisations consisting of different races. Consequently, although not
from the "world-inside-nation", but from the "world-outside-nation",
racism will become a contentious issue for them too.

Racism is defined as the belief that one race is superior to some other
races. A strange claim often surfaces here in South Africa: the inferior
races cannot be racists. However, when some races believe themselves to be
inferior to a particular race and thus elevate that race to the superior
race, is this not also racism, even though through the back door? When a
superior-inferior polarization is supposed, it does not depend on which
side supposes it, the superior or the inferior side. The outcome is the

I can give you almost endless citations on racism -- the Chinese among the
Malaysians, the Indians among the Kenyans, the Red Indians or Maoris among
the Europeans, etc. Likewise can every fellow learner point out at least
one case. But when we begin to do it, a peculiar thing happens. The
discussion will break down in flinging accusations around and tempers
flaring up. This is typical of uncontrolled entropy production.

The point which I wish to make, is that the very seeking of racism as the
cause for the conflict between different peoples is the very fuel for
increasing the conflict between these peoples. First of all, racism relies
on the concept of race. Five different major races among humankind has
been identified by anthropologists: Caucasian, African, Asian, Polynesian
and arctic peoples. In them various subdivisions have been identified.
However, as a result of interracial marriages since global transportation
became possible, almost every possible mixture of races in various degrees
have resulted. Here in South Africa where four of the major races and
their mixtures are represented, I have had more than enough opportunities
to observe that racism is not the primary cause of conflict between
various peoples.

So what is the cause of this conflict? I will use two words to come closer
to it: xenophobia and its outcome "misoxeny". These two words are made up
from the Greek words "xenos"=stranger, "phobos"=fear and "miseo"=to_hate.
The coming congress on racism will also deal with xenophobia. But will it
be able to avoid "misoxeny"?

I am an Afrikaner. I grew up in an Afrikaner society of which many hated
the English for the atrocities they did to the Afrikaners during the
British-Boer War (1899-1902). Racially the English and the Afrikaners are
as close as one could get. The English stem from Angles and Saxons whereas
the Afrikaners stem from Frankonish (Dutch) and Saxons (Low-German). Thus
the cause for the immense conflict (beginning with fear and ending with
hatred) between the English and the Afrikaners cannot be racism. It is
rather "ethnocism" to come closer to it.

The words xenophobia and misoxeny bring me closer to the cause of this
conflict. But they do not really describe the cause itself. The cause
itself was the incapacity of both the English to learn of the Afrikaners
and the Afrikaners to learn of the English. The cultures of the Afrikaners
and the English were different and both were ignorant to why these
differences developed in the first place. Both perceived these differences
as the Mental Model "inferior-superior polarization". The English thought
the Afrikaners were inferior to European situations. The Afrikaners
thought the English were inferior to African situations. This polarization
is a powerful entropic force because of its very dialectical form. It made
them both antagonistic to each other because of the lack of constructive
creativity and thus learning.

There is another observation to be made in the new South Africa.
Historically the conflict between the rich whites and the poor blacks was
seen as racism. However, a new rich black elite is emerging which will
soon overshadow the rich whites. Furthermore, many whites have now fallen
into poverty. The poor, black and white now, do not know how the rich
became rich while the rich, black and white now, do not know what it is to
live in poverty. The poor and the rich have become strangers to each
other, irrespective of race. Again a "superior-inferior polarization" is
perceived. Again the antagonism to each other surfaces, resulting in

A last observation. Black people from all over Africa are migrating to
South Africa, hoping for a better future. Those from the north are often
darker than the Bantu peoples of South Africa. Study upon study show that
these very dark immigrants are often the victims of the xenophobia and
"misoxeny" of some Bantu people. It is even more so when they dare to
speak in their African language strange to the ear of the Bantu. They are
perceived as strangers who either take jobs away from the indigenous Bantu
people or steal their belongings.

What word would you fellow learners suggest to describe this incapacity to
learn about the culture of a stranger and thus acting with antagonism
towards such a stranger? I think that the word has to contain four Greek
words. The first is "W" for "inferior-superior polarization". The second
is "X"="xenos" for stranger. The third is "Y" for "incapacity to learn".
The fourth is "Z" for "negative and destructive feelings". We have many
words in English consisting of two Greek words, but we have few (if any
because I cannot think presently of one and I am too tired to search for
one) consisting of three Greek words. Do we have even one word with four
Greek roots? No. So let me symbolize this word with four roots by "WXYZ".

The fact that "WXYZ" consists of four roots and not two as usual signifies
the complexity of this psychological problem. Furthermore, the "W", "Y"
and "Z" are the result of an impairing of some of the 7Es, if not all of
them. Even the stranger "X" usually behave much different with respect to
the 7Es. This makes the tacit knowing of some of them in the stranger very
difficult. Consequently we should add "6" to "WXYZ" as "6WXYZ" to signify
the complexity of this problem even better. Not even six of the 7Es are
enough to solve this problem -- all seven are needed.

I now have a clear understanding how "6WXYZ" is at the root of racism,
ethnocism and class differences and hence the conflicts appearing from
them. This "6WXYZ" is also at the root of many conflicts in many
organisations. For example, think of the inferior-superior polarisation
between manager and worker when they are strangers to each other,
incapable to learn of each other and thus having negative and destructive
feelings towards each other. I would estimate that "6WXYZ" is at the root
of at least 90% of industrial unrest and strikes in our country.

Another example is the formal teaching-learning institutions. I have
experienced as a pupil more than forty years ago this "6WXYZ" problem in
high school in two classes: science and language. I remember how I was
confused by it. I also experienced it in university a number of times in
some mathematics, chemistry and physics courses. It still confused me.
Later, when I became a teacher, I observed its devastating effects in a
number of school classes. One was a mathematics class next to my own
science class. I myself had to struggle frequently not to let "6WXYZ" took
hold in my own class. I began to learn how much polarization (the "W"),
the stranger (the "X") and learning (the "Y") had to do with it. But I did
not knew the 7Es and thus the "Z" was still confusing.

You fellow learners can surely offer your own examples. You can also take
your newspapers as I often do and scan them for reports on conflicts
stemming from the "6WXYZ" problem in business, schools, sports clubs,
hobby societies, business and even churches. The tentacles of this "6WXYZ"
problem and its conflicts are astounding. It is a "grandparent" problem
which gave rise to many "parent" problems and even much more "child"
problems. How can humans with different outlooks on reality be
accommodated to share in the prosperity which others seemingly have found?

One of the most astounding researches one can conduct on the Bible is with
the keyword "stranger". Please try to find a Concordance (Index) on the
Bible and study every citation on "stranger" within its context. It tells
us the message to accept strangers as a fact of life, to be kind to them,
to learn from them and hence to understand how they will enrich our own
lives. Thus the Bible is not the source of "6WXYZ" problem. It is rather
the incapacity when reading the Bible to become aware of this message and
do what it tells.

And so it will be with every other document prepared to make people aware
of the "6WXYZ" problem", including this very contribution. It is like
looking at the horizon, but seeing it not because in front of us the heavy
mist of ignorance covers the horizon. We can wait for the sun to clear up
the mist, but in some parts of the world that waiting can take several
months. Humankind has been waiting ages for the mist of the "6WXYZ"
problem to clear up. It did not happen because somehow humankind failed to
understand that itself has to become the sun which clears up the mist in
front of the "6WXYZ" problem".

How will humankind become that sun? By becoming learners! But did
humankind not had its learners since time immemorial? Yes, it had. This
means that what we need is not traditional learning, but a new kind of
learning totally transformed from past traditions. We need a kind of
learning which will take the "7Es", the "W"="inferior-superior
polarization", the "X"="xenos"=stranger, the "Y"="incapacity to learn" and
the "Z"="negative and destructive feelings" in its stride. It is something
which I try to articulate with my concept of "authentic learning".

Learning Organisations (LOs) have the capacity to create an environment
conducive to authentic learning. Our LOs will have to be acutely aware
that "authentic learning" is spontaneous, i.e. that "authentic learning"
is never driven by forcing it with work from the outside. Our LOs will
have to be acutely aware that "authentic learning" is creative, i.e. that
"authentic learning" is driven by autopoiesis (self-making). Our LOs will
have to be acutely aware that "authentic learning" results into various
levels for knowledge -- the experiential, the tacit, the formal and the

In Part 2 we will explore how the "6WXYZ" problem can be solved.

With care and best wishes.


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.