Squatter Problem LO19887

AM de Lange (amdelange@gold.up.ac.za)
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 22:23:20 +0200

Replying to LO19848 --

Dear Organlearners,

Rol Fessenden <Rf9@compuserve.com> writes:

>My dictionary says a squatter is one who "settles on
>land, especially public or unoccupied land, without right
>or title. Also, one who settles on public land under
>regulation by the government, in order to get title to
>it." In the 19th century US, we called squatters by
>another name. We called them pioneers. Can you
>share your definition, please.

It is very much the same as that of your "dictionary". But here in South
Africa the second clause has to be extended to "Also, one who settles on
public land under regulation by the government OR UNOCCUPIED LAND, in
order to get title to it."

(The "squatting problem" within an organisation follows the same line of
thought, except that in this case the "public or unoccupied land" is a
vacancy in the organisation. In the recent labour relations acts of the
New South Africa, metaphorically speaking, a person gets automatically
"title" to a vacancy in an organisation the moment when that person is
appointed by management to a vacancy, even if merely temporaly. You
probably can imagine what a tight rope walking labour relations have
become for management here.)

>My suggestion is that we can look at squatting as
>an outgrowth of poverty -- perhaps -- but we can also
>look at it as an outgrowth of our values about land

I agree. Some societies (I will not mention them here) were able to
maintain a way of life for shorter or longer periods without actual land
ownership. But they are few and far in between. Furthermore, this way of
life brought them into conflict with those for whom ownership of land is a
very serious matter. A case of clashing mental models.

> If no one owns land, then squatting disappears.

Yes, per articulated definition. But we will still have people infringing
on the creativity of each other.

>Perhaps if no one owns land, poverty disappears
>also, but I am unsure of that. You may think I am
>being silly, but I do not intend to be. I think I can
>make a strong case that it will be easier to change
>our values about land ownership than it will be to
>eliminate poverty.

I do not at all think you are silly. We have to look at all possibilities
to get the rich picture. We can cite history, for example, collectivism
in the USSR, that you have a strong case.

But there is not a strong case, at least in Southern Africa, that by not
having land ownership (individual or tribal), poverty will disappear. Long
before Southern Africa was even colonised, land ownership was tribal. This
did not prevent poverty - as some documentation of original "word by
mouth" information tells us. Unfortunately, no written precolonisation
documentation exists anywhere in Southern Africa to study the relationship
between tribal land ownership and poverty/richdom. Unfortunately,
colonisation brought not also literacy to Southern Africa, but also the
conflict between private and tribal land ownership. This conflict was a
major factor in deepening poverty rather than resolving it.

It is most interesting to note that one of the problems in the New South
Africa is exactly this conflict between private and tribal land ownership.
In the old South Africa it was said that apartheid caused this conflict
because white people cared for private land ownership while stuffing
tribal ownership down the throats of black people. Now that racism is
receding from the picture, we observe better that it is a clash between
"western" culture and "african" culture. The more people with originally
an "african" culture comes into contact with the "western" culture, the
more they care for private land ownership rather than tribal land
ownership. This pattern is clearly observable in most Southern African
countries. It also causes much conflict in South Africa in Banthu
communities themselves, especially in Kwa-Zulu Natal, aggrevating the
conflict there due to other causes.

What can we learn with respect to LOs? As I see it, it has to with
something going much deeper than land ownership. What we have to try and
understand, is what do we want to promote with land ownership? When I
have time available, I try to catch on with my reading on ancient Roman
Law as well as well as more recent Common Law in the Netherlands, UK and
USA. The picture is complicated, but again it appears to me that with land
ownership the idea is to promote the creativity of land owners. Obviously,
since creativity is a post WWII concept, inferences is not that easy.
Also, if land ownership had a direct causal relationship to creativity, we
would have a less complex problem to solve.

Rol, you also write:

>And despite this low level of poverty by world standards,
>we do not approach being a LO in this country. Other
>cultures where poverty is low and inequity is less than
>in the US -- the Scandinavian countries -- also show no
>signs of approaching LO status. So I think it is premature
>to draw the conclusion that LO depends on elimination of
>poverty. This seems to be more a matter of political belief
>than a matter of supportable observation.

If I gave the impression that a LO depends on the elimination of poverty,
then I am truely sorry. I am convinced of the opposite, namely that
Learning Individuals (LI) as well as Learning Organisations (LO)are
necessary to eliminate poverty. A little while ago Leo Minnigh and I had
some dialogue on the medieval guilds as LOs. These guilds definitely kept
poverty in medieval times within some bounds.

I am also convinced of something else, namely that both a LI and LO depend
on the elimination of ignorance (not poverty). Obviously, the act which
eliminates ignorance is "learning". A lack of learning will aggrevate
poverty. It will also prevent the emergence of a LO because all five
disciplines of the LO will fail, especially "personal mastery" and "team

A very hot question is the topics which will have to be mastered in order
to promote the emergence of LIs and LOs as well as the elimination of the
proverty problem and subsequent problems like the s quatters and
criminals. Maybe we can give attention to some of these topics in our
future dialogue.

Another hot question is what learning modes will give the best results.

Rol, thanks for the delightful dialogue.

Best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@gold.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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