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Why the rich love Burning Man - Salon.com

In principle the annual Burning Man festival sounds a bit like a socialist utopia: bring thousands of people to an empty desert to create an alternative society. Ban money and advertisements and make it a gift economy. Encourage members to bring the necessary ingredients of this new world with them, according to their ability.

Introduce "radical inclusion," "radical self-expression," and "decommodification" as tenets, and designate the alternative society as a free space, where sex and gender boundaries are fluid and meant to be transgressed.

These ideas -- the essence of Burning Man -- are certainly appealing.

Yet capitalists also unironically love Burning Man, and to anyone who has followed the recent history of Burning Man, the idea that it is at all anticapitalist seems absurd: last year, a venture capitalist billionaire threw a $16,500-per-head party at the festival, his camp a hyper-exclusive affair replete with wristbands and models flown in to keep the guests company.

Burning Man is earning a reputation as a "networking event" among Silicon Valley techies, and tech magazines now send reporters to cover it. CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Alphabet are foaming fans, along with conservative anti-tax icon Grover Norquist and many writers of the libertarian (and Koch-funded) Reason magazine. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even went so far as to claim that Burning Man "is Silicon Valley."

by das monde on Sat Aug 29th, 2015 at 01:27:11 AM EST
reappears in the desert.

(BM is a long way from a few dozen artist weirdos at Baker Beach in "don't call it Frisco.")

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sat Aug 29th, 2015 at 06:04:01 AM EST
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Reminds me of this essay (quoted in the Newsroom - h/t P.Krugman), with mentions of Musk, Norquist and the libertarian streak of many SV types:

Tech nerds are smart. But they can't seem to get their heads around politics. - Vox

Showing up means dealing with annoying people, many of whom are on your side. It means unpleasant compromises and second- or third-best solutions. But there's no way a new world can be born out of the old one without the midwifery of public policy. Musk may be several orders of magnitude smarter than most politicians, but politics is nonetheless the eye of the needle through which his enterprises must pass on their way to the promised land.
by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Aug 29th, 2015 at 03:58:32 PM EST
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Tech nerds are smart. But they can't seem to get their heads around politics.
Tesla got off the ground in part because of US policy, including an early Department of Energy loan and an ongoing electric vehicle tax credit. SolarCity got off the ground because of policies like state renewable energy standards and net metering, and has gotten some of its biggest contracts with the US military.
Some say all Musk businesses and profits come from government support. In a practical sense, Musk is politically savvy in business like no one else. All the talk about dumb political failure to implement the revenue-neutral carbon tax is just hot air to Musk as well. In pro-active social politics, "givers" like Musk are more potent than Washington DC.

The "silicon" Burning Man illustrates the power of the gift-giving-for-status economy. The hunter-gatherer, socialist-anarchist and capitalist paradises might have a lot in common, once some part of human nature kicks in.

by das monde on Mon Aug 31st, 2015 at 07:28:59 AM EST
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Burning Man founder: 'Black folks don't like to camp as much as white folks' | Culture | The Guardian

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey has countered criticism of the lack of racial diversity at the festival by saying that part of the reason there are so few black attendees (known as burners) is that "I don't think black folks like to camp as much as white folks".

In an interview with the Guardian, Harvey vowed that "we're not going to set racial quotas", defended the presence of rich Silicon Valley executives at the festival, and said he will personally go undercover this week to investigate the luxurious camps of ultra-wealthy tech bosses said by the New York Times to boast chefs, air conditioning and servants.

According to the most recent Black Rock city census, complied yearly by a team of academic demographers and anthropologists to determine the makeup of the festival, 87% of burners identified as white; 6% identified as Hispanic, 6% as Asian, and 2% as Native Americans (figures rounded) - on the latter of whose ancestral lands the event occurs. The smallest demographic of burners - 1.3% - identified as black. According to the census, which also measures income, this means that the temporary city is home to twice as many people who earn $300,000 a year as it is to black people.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Sep 5th, 2015 at 11:33:15 AM EST
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But please don't take Larry out of context. (He's got black children.) He's not getting drawn into the racial debate, he's just saying what sociologists have also said, and trying to preserve artistic integrity.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Sep 5th, 2015 at 06:27:19 PM EST
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Wasn't my intention. Larry Harvey is not trying to justify anything nor trying to lure people based on "ethnic quota". Whatever you say or do, people not interested in BM won't be going.

Burning Man founder: 'Black folks don't like to camp as much as white folks' | Culture | The Guardian

Black burners are not an abstract concept for Harvey: "My family is half black," he said. "I see black people! And they're here. Though I got a lot of criticism for once saying, `Well I don't think black people like to camp'." Harvey's comment drew nervous laughter from other Burning Man staff and members of international media at a press conference before the Guardian's interview. "There are some historic reasons for that, especially in the United States."

Asked later to expand on this, Harvey told the Guardian: "Remember a group that was enslaved and made to work. Slavishly, you know in the fields. This goes all the way back to the Caribbean scene, when the average life of a slave in the fields was very short. And, so, there's that background, that agrarian poverty associated with things. Maybe your first move isn't to go camping. Seriously."

The rest of the year, Harvey lives in the historically black Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco. "My wife is from Jamaica. My ex-wife. My stepchildren - and then there's my son. So, it's a biracial family.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Sep 6th, 2015 at 04:00:28 AM EST
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Didn't mean you, meant people reading the article.

He's done pretty well keeping it focused on the arts, as it grew from a few dozen on the SF beach to many millions per year and 70,000 people living a week in a hostile desert.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Sep 6th, 2015 at 06:51:47 AM EST
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An interesting story about flying around BM:

At Burning Man's Airport, There Are Propeller People and Jet People

by das monde on Mon Sep 7th, 2015 at 03:17:43 AM EST
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