Morality in Learning Organisations LO17979

Mnr AM de Lange (
Mon, 4 May 1998 18:39:30 GMT+2

Replying to LO17812 --

Dear Organlearners and Rol,

You <> write:

> Winfried and At ask if immorality can persist in a learning organization.
> It is an interesting question, one that resonates with me. However, every
> time there is a discussion of morality, there is virtually no agreement on
> what is moral and what is immoral behavior. As a consequence, I am at a
> loss as to what meaning the question ultimately has.

Rol, I am very sorry for replying so late. In my reply to Fred Nickols'
contribution (LO17811, your own being LO17812) I have tried to answer you

> A couple of years ago (has it been that long, Rick?) we had a long series
> on morality and universal truths. Much to my surprise, we never even came
> close to a consensus on what they were. Quite a few people denied they
> existed. I still ponder this, even though I accept it. It was certainly
> a big learning for me.

I remember those times. When a group of people cannot get consensus over
an issue, it is for me a sign that they have not complexified themselves
enough to be able to reach a consensus.

> The issue gets particularly sticky when we progress beyond the "easy" ones
> (don't kill another human). We could never get agreement even on that
> one, let alone come to grips with the morality of pollution versus
> economic development. So, I am interested in how people will answer this
> question. I am sure we each have our own individual morality, but I am
> equally sure that a definition of organizatinal morality will be difficult
> to come to.

The "morality of pollution versus economic development" is chicken feed
when it comes to the morality of self-organisation "close to equilibrium"
"VERSUS" "far from equilbrium". The word VERSUS worries me. It is often a
sign of exclusive thinking.

Most of you have been well informed the last two decades on what happened
in South Africa with respect to Apartheid", but definitely not the last
two years. One way to formulate Apartheid is that it was an official
policy to promote the exclusiveness of Europeanism. The majority of white
South Africans did not understand that it was also a policiy of
excludedness - that it caused immense sufferings among black people.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. A new policy of exludedness (based on a
new brand of exclusive thinking which we can call Africanism) is growing
day by day. The present ANC goverment is denying this excludedness with
the same conviction as the former NP goverment had denied their's. The
drug which the ANC goverment use to deaden their minds and that of their
followers, is that people who criticise them, are fundamentally not
willing to transform themselves towards Africanism. It is exactly the same
drug which the former NP goverment used - the critique of the opposition
cannot be loyal to the nation. In fact, the present vice president Thabo
Mbeki (who will soon replace Nelson Mandela) said last Monday it is better
for those who criticise the ruling goverment, assuming that they cannot
transform themselves, to leave the country for good.

Rol, you ponder over organisational morality, probably thinking of
businesses, small and big. But with my comments above I am inviting you to
think of "nations", the largest organisations we can get before we come to
the "global village" itself. My idea of a "democratic nation" is that it
is a nation which has become a learning organisation. Thus the one thing
we cannot afford in a "democratic nation", is the postponing of learning
for whatever reason.

Unfortunately, this is now happening in South Africa. The ANC before it
became the goverment, followed the policy of "Liberation before Education"
to great effects. They made the country ungovernable for the NP with this
policy. But every policy introduces a new dimension into the culture of a
nation. The policy of "Liberation before Education" created an atmosphere
deadly to learning, organisational and individual. The increasing crime
rate, violence, economical decline, witness to this deadly atmosphere.

What should you people, belonging to the rest of the global village, do
with respect to South Africa? Well, our problems are so complex that even
we do not know where we are going. But one thing we have learnt -
experience counts. Those inexperienced in South Africa's problems, should
respect our own self-organisation.

Does this mean that we want no advice. No. No. No. We desparately need
advice based on our common experiences as humans - members of the global
village. If I can offer one mission to you, help our nation to become a
learning organisation. When you become aware through any medium about any
cessation or any abrogation of LEARNING in South Africa happening in any
organisation, public or private, please express your opinion to as many
South Africans as possible that such a cessation of learning is wrong.

Best wishes


At de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa email:

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