Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Elderberry » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:15 am

I thought this was an interesting article.

http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/ ... apitalism/
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Lonesomebri » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:02 am

Sure, everything is capitalism, once you worship at that alter alone and give everything you like that term. Gifting and Decommodification do not make it the new capitalism; those things are not capitalist. Nor is BM a religion, even secular. Oh well, great article for seeing how others perceive stuff.

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by unjonharley » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:25 pm

Burners may well be on the way to a religion.. There is new one on the horizon.
It's called "The Sunday Assembly"..

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:22 pm

I've always thought that well-functioning capitalist societies are like heat engines, in that they function best (producing the most useful work) when there is an infinite "sink" for labor and products (the heat), where such products are irreversibly destroyed. If they're not irreversibly destroyed, the value of products ends up diluting the value of current goods, weakening the system. Oil is a great example of that "perfect" resource that we can money into to do work, while destroying the product. Diamonds as well: DeBeers goes through great lengths to prevent diamonds from reentering the market.

In that same view, imagine recycling the temples, the Man, or just the event in general over and over again. Sure, it seems such a waste to see all that art and lumber go up in smoke, but in the end if we left or recycled that art, the event would eventually stagnate. We create, buy and bring things only to consume them. We keep it fresh that way. Yes, we also have persistent goods, but think of those as catalysts for the real energy-using process that goes on.

And all this decommodification and gifting? Aside from taxes and BLM rules, think of it as keeping an adiabatic environment. We don't want energy leaving the system, or entering it. Using currency would mean that fuel could be used elsewhere.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Eric » Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:54 pm

BBadger wrote:Oil is a great example of that "perfect" resource that we can money into to do work, while destroying the product. Diamonds as well: DeBeers goes through great lengths to prevent diamonds from reentering the market.
You are quite right on oil, you miss the mark completely on diamonds. Diamonds are an artificial market, their only value comes from manipulated "scarcity" and marketing (and the fact that they were really inherently valuable up until the early 20th century, which makes most people think they still are). They are extremely common river-rocks, that can be found at every price point in sufficient quantities to meet every demand, in every market in the world, while DeBeers (in collusion with Russia) sits on untold piles of them, just letting them slowly trickle out. Don't buy into the mythology of the diamond - if you want to find out what it's really worth, go try to sell back a diamond you own. Value = 1/4 of what you paid, or less. I refuse to work with them, and the only one I own is in my dads bar-mitzvah ring. The value there isn't the stone, it's the ring itself, and it's only to me & my family.

"Jewelry diamonds would be worth $2-30 if used industrially"

Sorry, as a jeweler I have a particularly intense dislike of diamonds. There are much prettier stones (with actual value) all over the place.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:03 pm

Eric wrote:You are quite right on oil, you miss the mark completely on diamonds. Diamonds are an artificial market, their only value comes from manipulated "scarcity" and marketing (and the fact that they were really inherently valuable up until the early 20th century, which makes most people think they still are).
No, I meant exactly what wrote up there. What you've described is the supply-side control by DeBeers. However, the full extent of their manipulation is even more insidious. If they only controlled the supply-side diamonds would still be subject to the effects of value-dilution as the gems accumulated in the market. So DeBeers engineered a means to "destroy" sold goods to keep demand up by manipulating the resale market and marketing to prevent resales (e.g. the "Diamonds are forever" campaign).

There's a pretty good article on the subject that keeps resurfacing on The Atlantic (originally from 1982).
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by The CO » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:52 pm

Well, the author certainly learned a lot in his 1 trip to the playa. Who would like to play "find the fallacies" with me?


"We cannot simply ignore, for example, the extraordinary amount of exploited labor that makes Burning Man possible or that the (mostly foreign) laborers who supply tens of thousands of tents, boots, goggle, backpacks, lights, etc. for the event will likely never be able to afford the price of admission."

We can't ignore the tens of tousands of people that make their own boots, tents, goggles, lights, backpacks, art, mutant vehicles, or any number of one of a kind things made by burners either, especially the things they make that aren't for the burn. Top of my head: my kilts, belt, bags, shade structure, solar water heater and sink, swamp cooler, evap system, signs, and bar were built by me.

Add to that the percentage of burners that make strong effort to buy local/usa made/not mal-wart. I'm willing to bet per capita, burners are above the curve there.

" The Burning Man experience is the product of tens (or even hundreds) of millions of dollars flowing into the consumer economy and is inextricably linked to disposable incomes of Silicon Valley’s digerati. (It is also this requisite spending that keeps Burning Man as an exclusive and relatively privileged event.)

these two statements have been disproven and flogged far too many times for me to rehash.

"its rituals (e.g., Burning the Man, spanking festival “virgins,” respecting the solemnity of The Temple, lamp lighting ceremonies, etc.)"

Fuck your rituals. Burning the man is kind of thematic to Burning Man. Spanking unwilling virgins was prohibido at greeters several years back. Solemnity at the temple to me is hearing OED blast 'Bird is the Word' while the raver camps finally play some decent music (classical), and if you tell me or OED to stop, you're not respecting us.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:44 pm

The CO wrote:We can't ignore the tens of tousands of people that make their own boots, tents, goggles, lights, backpacks, art, mutant vehicles, or any number of one of a kind things made by burners either, especially the things they make that aren't for the burn. Top of my head: my kilts, belt, bags, shade structure, solar water heater and sink, swamp cooler, evap system, signs, and bar were built by me.

Add to that the percentage of burners that make strong effort to buy local/usa made/not mal-wart. I'm willing to bet per capita, burners are above the curve there.
Yeah, but "above the curve" isn't the point either. Those are more hippie sentiments and not what the event is really about. In the end, BM is not an anti-capitalist event despite what some losers who visit this forum (and author articles like the one in the OP) assume when they attempt to troll people with misinformed claims of "hypocrisy."

Some people make their own stuff, others don't. I don't think it really matters unless one way or the other brings you more joy or gives you more time for other things. It's all about what you want to spend your time on.

Re: privileged event for Silicon Valley people

I thought that part was pretty funny. If $400 ticket/year + travel expenses, is what it means to be "privileged and exclusive" people must have some very low standards. Burning Man is more a "time-privileged" event than money-privileged, but that's usually more about the person's priorities. Nobody who attends that I know personally is a Silicon Valley digerati. Most do what they enjoy doing though. Maybe that's the key, rather than just slaving away at something you don't like. You don't need to be rich to have that lifestyle though.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by The CO » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:09 pm

BBadger wrote: Some people make their own stuff, others don't. I don't think it really matters unless one way or the other brings you more joy or gives you more time for other things. It's all about what you want to spend your time on.
Agreed. I was attempting to counter the 'poor underpaid workers who'll never get to burn' the implication that all burners buy tons of stuff. In my experiance, the average burner is less of a consumer than the average defaultian. Mind you, it's the ones that go more than once that seem that way.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Elderberry » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:42 pm

Based on the posts so far, I had to go back and re-read the article to make sure I posted the right link.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:44 pm

The CO wrote:Agreed. I was attempting to counter the 'poor underpaid workers who'll never get to burn' the implication that all burners buy tons of stuff. In my experiance, the average burner is less of a consumer than the average defaultian. Mind you, it's the ones that go more than once that seem that way.
Though that could be more about practicality than a different or changed mode of thinking. The first time is a one-off test, the 2+ times are the investment purchases.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by The CO » Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:58 pm

I see a lot of subtleties. Watching people return after their first few years, and stop buying so much crap in defaultia. Discovering that they can buy in bulk far cheaper at winco, and not have loads of packaging. Realizing the value of of simplifying. Reasoning aside, it's the result that counts to me.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Lonesomebri » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:39 pm

The Plan to Defrost Walt Disney and Save Capitalism With Sea Cities
http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-plan ... ldollaghan
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Ugly Dougly » Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:55 am

Like capitalism, Burning Man is still hooked on the assumption of constant growth.

Of all illusions, this is the most dangerous.

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Wed Sep 25, 2013 6:34 pm

Well constant growth isn't necessarily a feature of capitalism. It just happens to be a tool of stability.
"The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law." -- Christopher Hitchens

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Elderberry » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:37 pm

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Elderberry » Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:40 pm

And there's this: Burning Man is now a meme.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by redbirdy » Sat Oct 12, 2013 11:59 am

Ugly Dougly wrote:Like capitalism, Burning Man is still hooked on the assumption of constant growth.

Of all illusions, this is the most dangerous.
This fierce dichotomy has peaked my interest. I have never been to a burn but have some friends and family who have. Their stories of transcendence helped me determine that I must go one day. And I will...to see what this is about for myself.

But...I'm looking for the truth here. The videos and posts I've seen express so much love, sharing, and people coming together in this big melting pot of peace and unity, which draws this moth in, for sure. Oneness is how I feel in relation to "you". But...

I wish to understand what this controversy of supposed utopia vs capitalism really means to burners? Especially the burner who has been around the playa a few times? How has the spirit changed and what was this really founded on? Are we still there, or have we let corporate greed sink its claws in deep?

I have also seen ALOT of harshness to each other in these forums, which doesn't perpetuate what I have come to see as the spirit of BM. What's up with all that?

Is this "spirit" for real, or is BM in need of an exorcism?

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:32 pm

I have never been to a burn


then please, just stop right there...



comment on the sociological aspects of burning man AFTER you have experienced it.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by unjonharley » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:50 pm

Redbirdy,

First. This is E playa not Burning Man.. We are a bunch of people that bat around subjects and ideas the other 51 weeks of the year.. The week of Burning Man we are burners.. Burning Man is a cross cut of a very large world of people.. Any/all personalities are found there.. On e playa we love to pin anothers ears back just becuase we can. It's called snark..

You can find a small list of the negative people in the thread " top asshats 2013"

Other from that Burning Man can not be described by any one person..

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Lonesomebri » Sat Oct 12, 2013 12:55 pm

I have also seen ALOT of harshness to each other in these forums, which doesn't perpetuate what I have come to see as the spirit of BM. What's up with all that?
I love harshness. Do you wish to deny me my love? Just because you are afraid of something does not make everyone else tremble also. The desert is a harsh place, if harshness is to be avoided, well, it looks like Black Rock might want to be missed. I LOVE it. The best type of people might tell you what you need to hear, as opposed to a bunch of meaningless fluff about whatever. I don't see platitudes and the like as real kindness. The desert, fire, dust...none of these is concerned with making you feel good about yourself, that's your job. Are you up to it? Can you face that natural harshness? Seriously. The kind of person who can't take humans being humans isn't going to be able to hack it on the playa, nature is no hippie.

As for this thread, I'm a terrible traitorous capitalist, but i sure know how to start a fire, and I'll do it for free.

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by theCryptofishist » Sat Oct 12, 2013 5:47 pm

redbirdy wrote:But...I'm looking for the truth here. The videos and posts I've seen express so much love, sharing, and people coming together in this big melting pot of peace and unity, which draws this moth in, for sure. Oneness is how I feel in relation to "you". But...
It's alright. You can "other" me. Because sometimes, fuck you. Because I don't want to all melt together in some sort of easy, cheesy, sleazy mush pot of hippie feel-good non-entity.
redbirdy wrote:I wish to understand what this controversy of supposed utopia vs capitalism really means to burners? Especially the burner who has been around the playa a few times? How has the spirit changed and what was this really founded on? Are we still there, or have we let corporate greed sink its claws in deep?
I don't know that it was "founded" per se. There was a guy who was burning effigies on the beach until he was told not to. There were some other people who were leading a trip into the desert because it was stark and weird. A few years later there was the BLM imposing rules on the use of the desert, because (I believe) someone was severely injured in the freewheeling situation previous to that. So, the first person or group of persons who could turn in a respectable EA got to be the BM org. Or maybe it was the only persons who wanted to write an EA. To say that Larry Harvey founded Burningman is as inaccurate as saying St. Peter founded the Catholic Church. Well, maybe not quite that much, but a gross over-simplification.
To really understand the Cacophony Society and the San Francisco art scene of the 80s who did so much to shape the event in the early days, you have to understand that they were, to a great extent, anti-hippies. The sensibility was a great deal more punk. Okay, there were hippies, but they were not the dominant strain. All that warm fuzzy stuff was not the founding ethos, so let go of that idea. And the de-commodification? That's in relation to BLM rules. I haven't looked in a few years, but when I did, I could only find one BLM land that permitted vending. IMperial Sand Dunes, I think. They allow food vendors, and iirc, they had to take their carts off the land every five days for a thorough cleaning. So, everything you think is wrong.
redbirdy wrote:I have also seen ALOT of harshness to each other in these forums, which doesn't perpetuate what I have come to see as the spirit of BM. What's up with all that?

Is this "spirit" for real, or is BM in need of an exorcism?
The spirit is for real. It's possible that you are in need of an exorcism.

Otherwise, what Lonesomebri said.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by GreyCoyote » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Red: Firstly, welcome. Good to see you participate!

Second: you are overthinking this by many orders of magnitude. Just go. Camp in the desert with us for a week and then see if any of these questions really matter. Yes, you could likely get answers to such deep questions, but look! There goes some blinky lights and music! And art! And some awesome people! (Oh wait... What were we talking about?) :mrgreen:

Third: the bunch of inglorious bastards that gather here in cyberspace should never be confused with the reality of the desert. Think of eplaya as the cancer ward of the sanitorium. We are sick and crazy. Very few play well with others. But there is tough love here, and hard-won information, and it will serve you well if you let it.

So all this being said, what are you doing to bring yourself closer to getting dusty? :mrgreen:
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Savannah » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:43 pm

Well said, GreyCoyote. Welcome to ePlaya, RedBirdy. :)

You can't know the truth--such as it is--until you go. If you've decided to go, focus on the logistics and the physical preparation, and let go of expectations as to the level of peace, unity and love. Expectations equal a bad time. Experiences range wildly, and are completely individual.
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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by BBadger » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:51 pm

redbirdy wrote:This fierce false dichotomy has peaked my interest. I have never been to a burn but have some friends and family who have. Their stories of transcendence helped me determine that I must go one day. And I will...to see what this is about for myself.

...

I wish to understand what this controversy of supposed utopia vs capitalism really means to burners?
Controversy? What controversy? There is no utopia vs capitalism war being waged at the burn. The burn isn't even a monument of a world without capitalism or consumption (sorry hippies). There is no utopia at Burning Man because Burning Man is not self-sustaining. It's a week-long event built on the back of a capitalistic and consumerist society. In fact, I'd consider the burn an altar to consumerism facilitated by capitalism. After all, what greater symbol is there in consumption other than turning something you created or bought directly into heat? There's not even work being produced in the process.

(deleted paragraphs about all the things we get from the capitalist society to make BM possible)

If you want to wage a war against capitalism and consumerism, don't take part in Burning Man. Stay home. Save your resources. Don't buy or exchange goods. Only come to Burning Man to be blinded by what is possible by leveraging the fruits of capitalism and the creation and destruction of goods. See the "waste" in the name of entertainment and a completely by-design unsustainable city. On that last point, Burning Man is not a "green" event either -- probably the antithesis of it. If you want to save the planet, don't drive hundreds of miles to take a vacation in an ephemeral city for a week. You don't get carbon credits for those solar panels you buy for that one week either.
"The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law." -- Christopher Hitchens

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by redbirdy » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:05 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:
I have never been to a burn


then please, just stop right there...



comment on the sociological aspects of burning man AFTER you have experienced it.
Thank you all for taking a moment to reply. I am actually doing a research project for my Sociology class on Burning Man and was looking for some solid leads as to where I might go to find info on the topic of this post. :) I thought that here would be a good place to start. This topic isn't new, it's been debated for years. My main goal though, it is to introduce BM to my classmates here in Joshua Tree. I would like to show others this event with the hopes that they can see that there are other alternatives to living in a box. I am an artist as well as a student...

I realize that all walks of life go to the burn....but who and what for? I will go. Will I go year after year? I can't say. But.....because I have yet to go, does this not give me warrant to ask any questions?

And as for harshness...I am not a harsh person by nature. I don't believe that to be true about humanity. But that is just my belief...like Christianity, or "little green men" for others. I welcome all beliefs. They help me grow and change and shift my consciousness and that is MY personal journey on this rock. I respect your stances immensely. Thank you :)
Last edited by redbirdy on Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by redbirdy » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:14 am

theCryptofishist wrote: The spirit is for real. It's possible that you are in need of an exorcism.

Otherwise, what Lonesomebri said.
This is funny...and might be true!

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Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Savannah » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:06 pm

redbirdy wrote:
Simon of the Playa wrote:
I have never been to a burn


then please, just stop right there...



comment on the sociological aspects of burning man AFTER you have experienced it.
Thank you all for taking a moment to reply. I am actually doing a research project for my Sociology class on Burning Man and was looking for some solid leads as to where I might go to find info on the topic of this post. :) I thought that here would be a good place to start. This topic isn't new, it's been debated for years. My main goal though, it is to introduce BM to my classmates here in Joshua Tree. I would like to show others this event with the hopes that they can see that there are other alternatives to living in a box. I am an artist as well as a student...
Oh God, another Sociology major. :lol:

It's okay, I was too. Soc and Theatre.
I realize that all walks of life go to the burn....but who and what for? I will go. Will I go year after year? I can't say. But.....because I have yet to go, does this not give me warrant to ask any questions?
You have the right to ask questions; we have the right to be annoyed by the umpteenth person using ePlaya (a rather small sample of regulars, 46K unique logins aside) to write a paper about something they haven't immersed themselves in/observed/participated in for themselves. We see a lot of these requests. I'll tell you my perception of why you received the reaction you did.

* The tone was critical and challenging, placing us on the defensive immediately regarding something we love and sometimes get weary of defending.

* "Are we still there, or have we let corporate greed sink its claws in deep?" . . . We?

* Many Burners don't like being studied, identified, classified, pigeonholed, critiqued, & sorted into boxes like your classmates ostensibly are in Joshua Tree. ;)

Go to the Burn, learn what it means to you (if anything) and make sure to Participate more than you observe. Come to the ePlaya Meet & Greet and see how mean we are . . . (so very mean. The meanest!).

And if you really, really like the Burn, don't tell all your classmates, because ticket demand has outstripped ticket supply. :lol:
*** 2018 Survival Guide ***

"I must've lost it when I was twerking at the trash fence." -- BBadger

"Snark away, ePlaya, you magnificent bastards." -- McStrangle

User avatar
Lonesomebri
Posts: 2561
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:54 pm
Burning Since: 2018
Camp Name: CAMP THREAT
Location: NorCal

Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by Lonesomebri » Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:33 pm

I would define both birth and death as harsh, and everything in between is humanity. Once you visit the BRC outhouses your views on humanity not being harsh might change. That does not make it "bad". Get it?

Whiskey is harsh, and I'll be drinking some tonight.

You could study me though, I believe that I represent the typical burner, with the typical attitude .....right gang?

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theCryptofishist
Posts: 40313
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:28 am
Burning Since: 2017
Location: In Exile

Re: Burning Man is the New Capitalism

Post by theCryptofishist » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:45 pm

You're funnier.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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