Dear Weber, I Recommend You Go A Little Further Into The Future.

By: Onya Ganja

hwigxvelckc5zz8be3h01q2

If I heard it through the grapevine that German Sociologist Max Weber had ended up in this century … I would write him a letter … and this is what it would say …

Dearest Weber,

Weber, Weber, Weber, I hear you’ve found yourself in contemporary 21st Century North America. Welcome and good luck. I thought you might be interested in what the modern world and its society is like. The “spirit of capitalism” is still alive and to my great dismay quite well. (Weber: 155) The good news is that if you are a conspicuous consumer we have everything from automobiles to automatic cat feeders and strange chemical balloons women get implanted in their chests. The world has changed in more ways than one but there is still an iron cage surrounding society. Unfortunately the cage occupants, including myself, are more fettered than feathered, just as they were in your time. (Weber: 164) North Americans are still “dominated by the making of money”, and making money is still the end-all, be-all purpose of life for most members of society. (Weber: 155) For most, the whole point of making money now is to buy things. Ridiculous things which have become markers of one’s status. How society justifies its infatuation with making money has changed a lot since your time. Society’s norms surrounding the pursuit of money-making is still “by no means a product of nature.” (Weber: 158) Your description of a calling would probably change to have nothing to do with religion and your description of the iron cage might well include the fact that so many people are within the cage now that the door is hidden from view altogether. My mother tells me I am an optimist.

Back in your day people followed their calling to please “God” and their calling’s importance in “God’s” and everyone else’s mind was based on how their job contributed to the community but more importantly how much income it made them personally. (Weber: 160) Not because how much money they made said how important they were to society but rather how important they were to “God”. (Weber: 160) “The spirit of Capitalism” nowadays is all about the individual and very far removed from its religious roots. The financial success or failure of an individual is looked at as a reflection of how hard they work rather than what “God” has planned out for them. The poor are meant to feel like their financial hardships have nothing to do with “God”, capitalism, or anything other than them simply not trying hard enough. In addition, positive community impact and “God” are no longer important factors in society’s assessment of particular occupations.

The bottom line is now, the more money you make, the more power you have in society and the more valued you are. Just as it was in your time, we are all born into this capitalist system with no visible alternative. We see these as our only options – compete in the rat race or be “thrown into the streets without a job”. (Weber: 156) Push the money machine forward, or starve. Now if you starve, society sees it not as “God’s” will but rather that you are simply a defective individual in an effective society. Society has ceased to justify “economic compulsion” altogether as now it is the only justification for any course of action. (Weber: 164) Now with the absence of asceticism in the conversation surrounding callings, the pursuit of wealth is what is really valued by society. (Weber: 162) In the province I live in they have even now criminalized those who live nearest the door of the iron cage. Street-work, which doesn’t contribute to greasing the wheels of the capitalist machine, has been made illegal by provincial by-laws. Can you imagine a world where begging for money for food is illegal? Just like religion is an institution of social control so is the law. If you attempt to escape the iron cage on an individual level you will be controlled via incarceration.

The iron cage and its byproducts makes it seem as though we all have a calling, and that is to be participants in the economic system which we did not create for ourselves. Making money to buy things which humans have never previously needed has become the purpose for most of society. You said that “a man does not ‘by nature’ wish to earn more and more money, but simply live as he is accustomed to live …”, now the ideal course for one’s calling would be nothing other than to earn more and more money. (Weber: 157) Now a calling, just as it was in your time, but in a different sense, is all very gendered. Both men and women are now both actively involved in capitalism in every way possible. Social norms surrounding gender dictate what someone’s calling will be far more than religious notions of what “God” wants. All social norms today including occupational gender roles create a barrier to social change. Social change seems to be so slow that it’s hard to tell what direction we are going in. You may not have travelled far enough into time. “The last ton of fossilized coal” hasn’t been burnt up yet but we are now getting close. (Weber: 164) Soon we will see if that can create a change in society which may turn the iron cage back into the cloak is ought to be. (Weber: 164)

Don’t worry, the bureaucrats are still chained to their desks in the “economic and ideological” sense. (Weber: 193) I say don’t worry, as it would hardly seem fair for society to be caged in by bureaucracy without the bureaucrats being caged in with us. Bureaucracy today creates a great barrier to anything threatening to change the economic and social order of things. There is just simply too much paper work involved in social change nowadays. Sometimes it feels like all the rules and bureaucracy of my time make it so very little gets done in any sort of capacity at all. Every bureaucracy loves a make-work project. How can one be looking for the cage door when drowning under a pile of paper work? All the rules and bureaucracy by-products stifle societal change and lube capitalism. Also, just as in the case of the idea of the calling, bureaucracy and “God” are very much separated today. Bureaucracy never needs to defend itself or justify its actions any longer, it is the reality of how things work in our society now, no alternative is visible.

Perhaps the largest difference between today and your yesterday is that society for the most part finds the cage comfortable, as the pursuit of money and status symbols matters more than freedom and purpose, even to the religious members of society. Religion is still a force and institution of social control in our society but it is no longer needed to justify capitalism. I bet you are probably saying to yourself, “but something needs to direct the ‘spirit of capitalism’ nevertheless”. You are right. Now I would say “God” has been replaced by the mass media. Newspapers, television, movies, celebrities are all bigger and more influential than “God”.  Even if religious notions are to play a role in societal trends towards callings I would say that it is the media that truly spreads these notions and gives them weight. The advancement of technology and strange social networks are the by-product of that advancement and have further diminished religion’s effect on society. So, religion started the “spirit of capitalism” in your time and now has been completely overshadowed by things which didn’t even exist in your day. I wondered why religion started pushing toward capitalism in the first place. My Catholic roommate came home from church and the collection that weekend was over $5,000 dollars. Mystery solved.

Well Weber, I wish I had better news for you, I wish I could tell you things have changed for the better. The way things are though, the iron cage is still here and notions of callings still direct lives towards capitalistic goals. Just now “God” has very little to do with anything in comparison to the power of greed. I wish I could at least tell you bureaucracy has dissolved or changed for the better; but now more than ever I don’t think there is a moment of anyone’s life that isn’t confined in action by the cage of bureaucracy. Maybe next century.

35c57e

Toke it easy Weber and Weberians,

Onya Ganja

A70GU_CCMAAnVm9.jpg-large

The Stoner Girls’ Guide to “Race” Based Education Initiatives in Canada

By: Onya Ganja

I am just completed a course titled “The Sociology of Education”. Seminar presentations were a course requirement. The concept of “race” is one of my main interests in the field of sociology and therefore I chose the topic “Race-based Education Initiatives in Canada” for my presentation. I don’t believe in race fyi. I think it is a socially constructed idea used to justify the positions of those who benefit from the racial hierarchy. Sure people have different skin colour but there is no genetic marker for different “races” and even within my “white” family there are varied skin colours. I am all for people identifying with their history and culture but the notion of race is far too complex to exist. So, I am “white” … what if my Grandmother wasn’t? Am I still “white”? The Canadian Government tried to define who was and was not Indigenous in the 1985 Indian Act. Did not work out so well. People don’t fit into boxes, as much as we would like them to. Therefore, as someone who doesn’t believe in race and has studied the dark history of the Residential Schools in Canada I went into this project thinking I would come up with a presentation against race-based education initiatives. I was wrong.

Now, whenever “race” is being talked about I think it is important to mention the concept of cultural appropriation. There is a very complicated debate that ensues whenever cultural appropriation is brought up. I think it is important and potentially harmful to certain cultures but who has a right to which culture is as convoluted as who is what “race”. I think all any of us can do is attempt to educate ourselves, keep our hearts in the right place and strive for cultural sensitivity and respect. My bias on the topic of cultural appropriation centers around the fact that I am truly in-love with African and Asian history and culture. I understand this has the potential to offend some. Such as the guy I bumped into on the street who got me in big trouble for wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt. After months of discussing whether or not I am allowed to respectfully wear the Bob Marley t-shirt and me expressing my respect for the movement Bob Marley represents … I am allowed to wear my t-shirt around town again. Which brings me to my final point about cultural appropriation – if you are going to appropriate anything from another culture you better be able to back up your reason for doing so. It was important for me to win this argument without bringing up the fact that Bob Marley is a perfect example of how the topic of race isn’t “black” or “white”. (May he R.I.P.)

So, race doesn’t exist but there are education initiatives in Canada which are referred to as “race-based”. What these schools really are though, is Africentric Alternative schools. In the past there have been truly race-based schools, the case of Brown vs. Board of Education was the end of legal and forced segregation in North America. (Baker, 2005) In Canada, the dark history of Education is that of  “marginalization” and “suppression” of minorities groups, Aboriginals and African Canadians most overtly. (Wotherspoon, 2009:240) For the purpose of this writing I shall focus on the education of African-Canadians.

In the 1970s the Canadian government created a policy on multiculturalism that sought to address some of the issues of the past. (Wotherspoon, 2009:246) Some positive changes have been brought about from this policy but many feel these measures are far from sufficient. (Wotherspoon, 2009:246)

The literature on the topic of education, race and inequality supports the need for change …

“Education institutions continue to produce a social order that is unequal according to class, gender and race … the cultural capital of schools is consistent with the need of the dominant culture to maintain the status quo.” (Baker, 2005:247)

“Jeanne Ballantine (2001) found that African-American Students in integrated settings have lower self-assurance, less self-esteem, and decreased overall aspirations.” (Baker, 2005:249)

“Invisible messages transmitted in the classroom that are based on white, male, middle-class standards, for instance … can lead minority students to see their own identities as undesirable or unacceptable.” (Wotherspoon, 2009:132)

“The dominant culture has used schools as a means to transmit the culture required for entrance into the (white) middle-class.” (Baker, 2005:253)

Could these problems be solved without having alternative schools? Absolutely. Curriculum could be changed, policies could be continually evolved to support diversity and equality. Will this happen anytime soon? Absolutely not. So, until that happens all the more power to any group of people who want to have the option to send their children to a non-eurocentric school.

In Ontario and Nova Scotia there have been Afrocentric School initiatives, with passionate supporters and critics. (Wotherspoon, 2009:240) If you are interested in a purely sociological debate on this topic, look up George J. Sefa Dei for a thorough analysis.

Here is the story of race-based education initiatives in Ontario, as they have been represented in the media …

Toronto’s Africentric Alternative School

Toronto District School Board – Afrocentric Schools

My main issue with the dominant discourse surrounding this topic in the media is the focus on these school as “race-based” when, in actuality it is purely an Africentric curriculum (or rather a non-eurocentric one) which any students are welcome to attend. It isn’t based on “race”. Still feel like white students wouldn’t be “welcome”? Well suck it up and think about how that is a perfect example how people can feel excluded despite there being inclusive policies in place.

So at the end of writing this project I am in full support of Afrocentric Alternative Schools in Canada. They are not forced segregation and they are not based on “race” but rather based on a culture and history of a place other than Europe. I am white and I would love to go back in time and attend a school without a eurocentric curriculum. Some people fear these schools will further marginalize African Canadian students … well they are being marginalized now so we might as well support something different. Some people argue this will waste our tax dollars … you know what wastes our tax dollars? Funding kids to go to school for 10 years and then having them drop out in high school because their needs are not being met.

Honestly, I see where the critics are coming from on this one. I just want to hear the debate done in such a way that the notion of race isn’t simplified and problematic. Segregation of “races” is totally fucked up and should not happen for any reason. Unfortunately as far as I can tell right now though, there are “white” schools, or at least schools that teach everything from a eurocentric view-point. University isn’t as bad but it is almost more offensive when it comes to gender, in certain disciplines at least. Or perhaps I was just very unaware of gender topics when I was in high-school … and I didn’t go to high-school for very long. Maybe if I could have gone to a culturally alternative high school I wouldn’t have dropped-out.  Unfortunately  there is only one real way to figure such things out and I am still trying to find a DeLorean to call my own. Until we all have time-traveling-DeLoreans, I think we should let people live and learn how ever feels right to them! (Other than white-power people, fuck them.)

backtothefuture-delorean

Toke it easy and happy learning trails!

Onya Ganja

A70GU_CCMAAnVm9.jpg-large

“Sexuality” (1986), “One-Dimensional Woman” (2009), Beauvoir, “The Second Sex” (1949)

By: Onya Ganja

My winter break is over and it may be the very last winter break I ever have, as my undergrad is coming to a close. I feel a mixture of melancholia and relief at the thought of my impeding freedom. Getting back to classes has been nice though. I love being force-fed literature. Here are some passages from my week of readings which I have analyzed for your pleasure. Nina Power’s “One-Dimensional Woman” (2009) manages to prove feminist can be funny and is therefore my book recommendation (for those looking for one).

One Dimensional Woman_cover

Weeks, “Sexuality” (1986)

“All of us have so much invested in our own concept of what is the ‘true sex’ that we find it difficult enough to understand dispassionately the sexual needs and behaviour of our closest contemporaries, let alone the infinitely more ambiguous desires of our predecessors. The mists of time and the various disguises of prejudice conveniently obscure other ways of living a sexual life, and the merits of diverse sexual cultures.” page 4, para 2

This is what I think the passage is saying. We all have our own idea (even though it’s socially constructed) of what is right and wrong when it comes to all things sexual. We have spent our whole lives forming these opinions and therefore are committed to them. These ideas of sexual right and wrong are severely ingrained in our psyches. Our thoughts about all things sexual are also highly emotionally charged because it is an emotionally charged subject and because we have spent so long forming our ideologies. The emotional aspect of these ideas make it hard for us to accept any differing views of our peers may have and especially those of past generations. Differing views threaten our own and if we cannot understand differing points of view in our own society, understanding the past seems impossible. The passing of time and covert as well as overt lenses of prejudice make it difficult to see clearly let alone accept differing point of view concerning sexuality.  Prejudice also lessens our ability to accept the value and potentially positive nature of there being a variety of sexual ideologies among people, cultures and generations.  This passage is important to consider because it highlights how emotions affect the acceptability of all things sexual, rather than simply facts.  This is important to put the sexuality arguments in this text into context and perspective. All the arguments are important because ideologies about the sexual aspects of people’s lives affect other important aspects of their lives. An example is how ideologies relating to gay marriage lead to some same-sex couple not having rights or health benefits.

Power, “One-Dimensional Woman” (2009)

“They, the breasts, and not their ‘owner’, are the centre of attention, and are referred to, with alarming regularity, as completely autonomous objects, much as one would refer to suitcases or doughnuts. Constantly fiddled with, adjusted, exposed, covered-up or discussed, contemporary breasts resemble nothing so much as bourgeois pets: idiotic, toothless, yapping dogs with ribbons in their hair and personalized carrying pouches.” page 25, para 1

Breasts have become so objectified it is to the point where they are being thought of and talked about like they are inanimate objects women own, rather than a natural part of the female body. The woman the breasts are attached to are largely irrelevant. Breasts have become a things, detached from what their true purpose is. Women are the owners of breasts now and therefore have to manage and control them in such a way to please other people. These unhuman breasts are given too much of the wrong kind of attention. Attention from both the person they are a part of and contemporary society on a whole. They are attached to notions of attractiveness and essentially devoid of depth or purpose.  Like “bourgeois pets” or the lap dogs of the rich and famous, breasts are a cute annoyance and nothing more than something to look at and alter according to the desires of others. So, the argument is that breasts have been overzealously objectified by modern society to the point of being shallow inanimate objects and this is destructive to women. This is also destructive to contemporary femininity and highlights the type of disconnect that is occurring between women and their bodies because of contemporary femininity trends. Another important aspect of Power’s argument is that this odd relationship, or lack there of, with women’s breasts is not how things have always been. This is a relatively recent development and a step in the wrong direction. This passage relates to the rest of the text as Power’s argument is how this is one of the many ways women are being subjected to shallow, meaningless ideas and trends of sexuality and femininity.

Beauvoir, “The Second Sex” (1949)

“It is a curious paradox that man lives in a sensual world of sweetness, tenderness, softness — a feminine world — while woman moves in the hard harsh male universe; her hands still long for the embrace of smooth skin and soft flesh: adolescent boy, woman, flowers, furs, child; a whole part of herself remains available and wishes to possess a treasure similar to the one she gives the male. This explains why there subsists in many women, in a more or less latent form, a tendency toward homosexuality.” page 416, para 2

I think Beauvoir was trying to say, that women have a sweet and soft sensuality. Men are aggressive and harsh and their sensuality is thus that as well. Men and women (ignoring those in between) live in and create a world with inherently different experiences both for themselves and those who enter into their world. Therefore, it is ironic that men and women are forced to find comfort in what is, for the latter at least an uncomfortable sensual world. Men get to pretty much be comfortable no matter what. While women are subjected to their painful opposite. What women offer they do not get in return. Women, having to live in the harsh reality of a man’s sensual world still long for the niceness and comfort they create for men. Women like nice and soft things like themselves. This is why so many women, if not all, have an overt or covert inclination towards Lesbianism. Lesbianism can offer women comfort. They are familiar with the comfort of women because they offer it to men and want it for themselves for obvious reasons. The argument is important because it offers an explanation for why it is so common for women to have a fluid sexuality. Also, it offers an explanation beyond those of passivity, or lack there of, and female sexuality. It related to the rest of the text by highlighting what Beauvoir sees as natural tendencies derived from sexual difference between the sexes.

Beauvoir, “The Second Sex” (1949)

“Analogous resistance is found in women of action, “brainy” types for whom even carnal submission is impossible. Were equality of the sexes concretely realized, this obstacle would be in large part eradicated; but man is still imbued with his own sense of superiority, which is a disturbing conviction for the woman who does not share it.” page 423, para 1

This is what I think is going on in this passage. Beauvoir feels that some intellectual women find sensual subservience to men beneath them and are therefore drawn to homosexuality. Not necessarily women who are smart, but women who value intelligence in themselves. This is a conscious or subconscious effort to avoid being emotionally and intellectually passive. If there was true equality between the sexes this reality would not be so. With equality between the sexes women could be with men sexually without needing to be passive in the process. It is the dominance of man which creates a necessity for passivity of women when man and woman are together. In addition, as things are now, the sexual hierarchy leads to men feeling like they are superior, which offends women who do not agree with them. Beauvoir’s argument is that some women are lesbians because they don’t think men are superior and do not wish to be passive and promote sexuality inequality by being with, and second to a man. It is important because it highlights how sexual inequality and ideals of female passivity may play a role in some women identifying as lesbian. In other words, it is not just about sexual attraction but about dynamics of social and sexual power which can lead to lesbian identity adoption. It relates to the rest of the text quite directly since the role of female passivity is a central theme to Beauvoir’s work.

Toke it easy and keep on reading your little hearts out!

Onya Ganja

The Stoner Girls’ Guide to Writing Marx a Letter …

Dear Mr. Marx,

First of all, let me say you have a very impressive moustache! Well, I guess you are dead now … but your moustache and seemingly your theories shall live forever. So, good job on growing such fantastic facial hair. In addition to your facial hair I appreciate many of your ideas and agree with … some of your ideas. I particularly enjoyed your Communist Manifesto and your ideas about Capitalism and how it is essentially the root of much of the world’s suffering. Most importantly I agree that Capitalism is inherently exploitative and that both wealth and power is not distributed fairly within Capitalist society. Most unfortunately, I think you are also right that money and the economy make the world go round … in the weird and often unfortunate way it does.

Your majestic moustache has not made me an unquestioning fan of your work though. In particular, I am rather perturbed you dissected Capitalism and all of its exploitative and alienating features and then gave us a glimmer of hope that things will change. I feel this glimmer of hope is sort of cruel as there isn’t anything realistic that any of us seem to be able to do to change things. You wrote this stuff many years ago (no offense) and nothing has changed for the good since then. (Well, I suppose there are some Communist countries but lets ignore that whole mess.) So what was the point in writing it really? Besides torturing second year university students with your convoluted writing and lack of vice versa use?

I am just kidding. I am a Communist.

Yours truly,

Onya Ganja

353fk7

The Stoner Girls’ Guide to Max Tannone ♪

By: Onya Ganja

IMG_7654

I was trimming crop at a growers house the other week. (When I got a little trim on my scarf.) My buddy and I were chatting about music and he had the audacity to say “no one listens to whole albums anymore”. If people ever stop listening to whole albums, I will stamp my fucking foot and cry. Listening to one song is fine, for the first time but you gotta hear the whole album. Otherwise it is like going to a strip-club without getting a lap dance. Ya know? It is the same reason I like to date a bunch of people at the same time. Makes the ones you love stand out from the ones you like.

I have an intense need to find new songs (and more importantly whole albums) to fall in love with and listen to for days on end. The ultimate is if I find an album I end up loving for the rest of my life. After the initial zing of love in my brain has worn off, there is something that can spice up the relationship. Remixes, mash-ups, ideally an entire mixtape. They can do what my ex-gf does to me in a new dress.

I think sleeping at night is highly overrated. It is far easier to avoid full participation in mainstream society when I stay up all night for one. Sometimes I stay up all night smoking kush and downloading mixtapes. So in this year I have probably downloaded … hundreds? Out of these a few done by Max Tannone are at the top of my loving-list. I first met Max Tannone’s “MOS DUB” mixtape. It is fucking wonderful. I was worried before I listened that it might be blasphemy (since Mos Def is a God). It surpassed all my expectations. Max Tannone’s mixtapes feel good in my ears and that is all that matters to me.

From the first mixtape of Max Tannone’s I met – “Mos Dub” …

In My Math – “… 40% of Americans own a cell phone, so they can hear, everything that you say when you ain’t home …”

Kampala Truth Work – “… The girl I love don’t wear panties much and when my song comes on both her hands be up …”

From Max Tonnone’s “Dub Kweli” mixtape …

Country of Loving – ” … Raised on Rakim and Run DMC, so I thought that everybody walked this way …”

More or Less Dub – “… More marijuana, less coke …”

Last but not least, some gems from Max Tannone’s “Ghostfunk” mixtape …

The Same Girl – ” … And the Lord knows best what I’ma do to him …”

Psychedelic Woman – ” … la la la la laaaa, la la la la la la la la …”

Respect to Max Tannone, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Ghostface. For the love of fucking music listen to every song you can find put on this world by any of these guys.

You can download Max Tannone magic here – http://www.maxtannone.com/

Toke it easy readers,

Onya Ganja

Photo on 2010-05-08 at 22.57 #4 05-36-48

1 583 584 585 586 587 593