democracy or constitutional state? LO27481

From: Leo Minnigh (
Date: 10/31/01

Dear LO'ers,

In LO27425 At ended with a followup proposal to a proposal I put forward.
At's one was :

Think of "life" as Afghanians, Ethiopians, Iraqians, Phillipinians, etc.
Find the answers to the question above.

I have thought about it, but as always my mind meandered to an even
broader area, close to what is happening closer to most of us: how about
life in our own country/organization?

I guess that most of us are more or less satisfied with the life and the
way of living in our own country. There is always a spark of national
proud in us. This I think is necessary for a nation, that its inhabitants
feel a proudness or strong bonds with the home country. And ofcourse, this
is also true on a more detailed scale: the organization, the company you
work. There is a whole scale of levels of 'nationalism', even to the
extreme side of fundamentalism.

With these thoughts in mind, I was thinking of my own country, the
Netherlands. As in many other countries there is here a long history of
democracy. Internationally this is unfortunately not the case. Democratic
principles have good sides, although there are also some negative sides as

Most companies and other governamental and industrial companies or
organizations are most of the time not-so-democratic. And these
organizations function generally too. So it seems that a democratic
structure is not so critical as it often is promoted by our politicians.
And sometimes this promotion becomes a dictate to other non-democracies.

I came to the conclusion that I am glad to live in a constitutional state
and I prefer this above the democracy. I think that living or working in
an environment without rules, and laws is dramatic. Living and working in
an environment where arbitrariness is the 'rule', life will loose its
necessary secureness and fundament.

But how about an organization or country that has rules and laws but where
the leader(s) takes the freedom to deny its own rules and laws? What I
mean is the feeling of unfairness that overcomes you if your leader acts
outside the rules and laws of the constitution. The feeling that the
protection that laws and rules should give you becomes shaky and that they
are loosely interpreted (because in those cases there is a risk that once
you could be a victim of this loose interpretation too). Even if such acts
happen under the umbrella of democracy.

I feel very unhappy, sad and somewhat anxious when leaders of
organizations (how small or big they might be), punish, discriminate or
otherwise act 'above'or outside the framework of rules and laws. That is
why I prefer a constitutional organization above a democratic

Unfortunately, I see in these days that some leaders of large
organizations don't act according to their own rules and laws. They take
the law into their own hands.

The question I struggle now with is the following:

How do we see the structure in a learning organization in respect to
democratic principles (protection to the weakest members) and in respect
to constitutional principles (laws and rules)?

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <>

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