Symbiosis in LOs LO11385

Mnr AM de Lange (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 09:57:58 GMT+2

William Welsh wrote in LO11289:
> In LO11262 AT de Lange wrote:
> >On a number of occasions I have observed that when the loop
> >becomes broken, some of the commensual dyads get destroyed while others
> >become parasitical. Herein lies a great warning for self-organisation. Do
> >not go overboard with it.
> As I stand within (and somewhat without) my organizational entity today,
> the loop lies broken before me, in necessary preparation for the new links
> to be formed to meet the next emergent cycle of change imperatives. Some
> of the commensual dyads are destroyed. Others have become parasitical.
> Yet there is continued life, a sense of spirit and renewal anticipated,
> self- organization to survive the moment and eventually prosper as a new,
> vital community. In recognition of your dire warning, what then, is
> overboard?


I distinctively remembered that as I was writing that Iine, I was thinking
of the Afrikaners and Apartheid in South Africa.

Although Afrikaners (Boere) were originally from European stock (Dutch,
French, German, etc) 300 years ago, they were borne in Africa and
considered them as part of Africa. Their language Afrikaans is probably
the greatest witness to where their roots are anchored.

Afrikaners did not create Apartheid out of scratch in South Africa. After
the 2nd Aglo-Boer (1899-1902) war, they found themselves in extreme
poverty - financially, socially and politically. Most of them got a raw
deal. [After the war, my grandfather, for example, had to walk 800 + 800
miles to fetch his first cow as a gift. My dad had to walk for 7 years 15
+ 15 miles to school each day. I can show you by documentary books what
British Imperialism did to Afrikaners - as worse as that which happened
since the Second World War in other parts of the world.] Around them a
strict class segregation was already booming for about 50 years,
maintained by the rich with their close ties to Europe. (They were called
the 'uitlanders' - outlanders.) The Afrikaners, however, were part of of
the outcasts like the other black and brown nations of South Africa.

The Afrikners had to SELF-ORGANISE. They began many organisations
functioning like a LO - 60 years before Peter Senge even thought of a LO!
These organisations covered the entire spectrum of a nation.
Unfortunately, they saw in the system of class segregation their basic
paradigm. So they strived to put a system on the law book such that the
already existing, informal class system could become part of their formal
lawful system. They began to call their system Apartheid. This suited the
rich with their close ties to Europe.

Since the early fifties, the Afrikaners realised that Apartheid would not
work if the other nations in South Africa (brown and black) did not
self-organise themselves. So Apartheid took another step forward -
Separate Development - Bantustans. Unfortunately, whereas the Afrikaners
managed to self-organise themselves, the other nations did not. This
created immense imbalances and eventually the death of Apartheid 5 years
ago. Since then Afrikaners experience a backlash against them. They are
removed at an alarming scale from all public jobs under the disguise of
affirmative action. Their language Afrikaans now gets less than 3% of TV
time. There is great pressure in removing Afrikaans as a medium of
instruction schools, colleges and universities where Afrikaans was
traditionally the medium of instruction to Afrikaners. Again the
uitlanders remains silent. So the great bifurcation has yet to happen!
Tens of thousands are emigrating, fearing that the bifurcation will lead
to an immergence rather than an emergence.

Now what was the basic error which the Afrikaners made? The fact that they
made a law out of the already existing segregation system? No. It was
terrible error, but not the basic one. The basic error was taht they kept
their eyes shut to symbiosis with other nations in South Africa, other
nations in africa and all the nations of other continents! They kept their
eyes shut to symbiosis with the rest of humanity. They were very keen on
self- organisation, but thought very little of co-organisation. This led
to their downfall. Since then Afrikaners are becoming very perceptive to
symbiosis. They are also caught up in an extremely intensive learning

Many of them have already learnt ON THE LEVEL OF TACIT KNOWLEDGE that the
paradigm of the 'engineer and his machine' would never work for Africa,
including South Africa. It is impossible to force with external work and
control (i.e. to engineer) resilient human relationships. Societies do not
work like machines. They are searching for a new paradigm. At the
univeristy where I work, most of the Afrikaner students go through the
motions of training in a distached manner. But many of them are thinking
very seriously, unfortunately without the help of academy. Many of them
have already dicovered the new paradigm 'warden of deep life', but
unfortunately again ON THE TACIT LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE.

When I discuss the above with Afrikaners in private, I never try to play
part in conceiving ideas in their mind. Like Socrates of old, I merely act
as midwife. I help them to get their noble thoughts borne in the dimension
of formal and objective knowledge. After each discussion, I am overwhelmed
by the fact how much they already know on the tacit dimension of knowledge
trhough their unique expreriences. The biggest problem I percieve, is that
there are far to few midwifes - people who know about mental emergences.

I know that in the above discussion I am not completely impartial. It is
because I am an Afrikaner myself and do not wish to become anybody else.
Whenever I have to wrought my thoughts from my tacit dimension of
knowledge, it happens in Afrikaans, my mother tongue. The
self-organisation of my thoughts are done in Afrikaans and not English. I
cannot function otherwise. However, the co- organisation of my thoughts
happens far more in English than in Afrikaans. Sometimes I envy you people
who can do both In English, especially when I have to struggle with the
English grammer. The grammer of Afrikaans is much more simple, forcing one
to concentrate on the semantics and not the syntaxis to get the m,essage

I hope I have answered your question 'what is going overboard in
self-organisation'. It is done by means of a rather unusual exemplar. But
Ben Compton has also expressed his concern about the way the USA is
evolving and that something might be learnt from South Africa. I tried to
satify his request also with this answer. (Ben, are you happy with it?) I
want to urge others from South Africa who also partcipate in this forum,
to analyse and judge my viewpoint as best as they can. Our future depend
on it.

Finally, symbiosis is an two edged sword. Afrikaners gave the world
Apartheid because of Afrikaner's insensitivity to symbiosis. Humanity have
to learn from Apartheid in a commensual manner. However, Afrikaners need
commensual assistance from the rest of the world to go forward without
Apartheid since the local retaliation is immense. Thus mutual symbiosis
can be achieved. I believe, as many of my forefathers did, that Afrikaners
is the gateway to Africa because we are rich in both Europe and Africa. We
are a complex bunch of people. However, if mutual symbiosis do not
materialise, this gateway will be lost forever.

I simply have to go lurking now to finish my book. Please excuse me! Maybe
its title can be mentioned again because it is very appropiate to our
dialogue: Entropy, creativity and learning: How to manage chaos, order and
complexity in nature and culture.

Best wishes

[Host's Note: At, we wish you the very best in your project and hope to
hear from you again when it's done. ...Rick]


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

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>