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Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
7 months ago

Lest we forget after summer holidays that Ms. Harrington is a genius:

“
radical post-scarcity society by having done all your shopping ahead of time.”

Summed it all up in 12 words


T Bone
T Bone
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

She is quickly becoming a legendary writer on a global scale. It’s very difficult to write so eloquent and sincerely that you can’t be pinned into an ideological box.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
7 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Well if we are quite honest then we can definitely ‘pin’ her with the paedophobes. She’s definitely down with the idea of our small beings as walking repositories of innocence, yet to be banished from ‘the garden’ along with that wicked Eve…

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sylvestre

I had a similar thought when Princess Greta appeared to speak on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury last year. A 15 minute preach about saving the planet at a gathering that is basically a capitalist enterprise providing entertainment for fairly wealthy people to pretend they’re slumming it. The green pretentions of events like these are cringy to say the least. I’ll not forget when they announced her name and an old guy behind me said “oh for f’s sake!” Turned about face and walked away.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

Yes, Greta, uneducated goddess of woke, net zero morons.

Last edited 7 months ago by Andrew F
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
7 months ago

The funny thing is these Silicon Valley tech bros love nothing more than to be snooty towards hippies, hunters, preppers, blue collar workers, and farmers. Guess who I am betting money on in a survival situation? The whole American “rugged individualism” thing came from the bottom up. It was a philosophy of those who were damn well determined to be left alone or those who realized that they might be forced to fend for themselves because other than your neighbors, it’s not likely anybody really cares about you and you’re not made of money.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Hey Mary/Matt plenty of snooty rich females at the fest ?
BTW
Is not the sanctimonious Unheard selling the other side of the same tech coin ?

Last edited 7 months ago by Mark M Breza
Mark HumanMode
Mark HumanMode
7 months ago

A very good insight, that I’d never considered, on the irony of Burning Man’s philosophy being based on money and surplus. The Greyhound bus experience struck a chord as I had done the same unlimited travel ticket with my wife-to-be in 1992. The exposure to a little seen side of the US was incredible – we witnessed riots, shootings, crazy people and out and out poverty – and yet in a mirror reverse of the richness of Burning Man, the poverty of our Greyhound experience was sustained by the American dream – as the guy we met living in the dumpster after the collapse in his job and marriage, said: “this is only temporary – one day I’m gonna make it”.

T Bone
T Bone
7 months ago

Burning Man is Protest Chic Stakeholder Capitalism. It was bound to get captured by Champagne Socialists. It’s like the Royals, Avante-Garde and Communists got together to create a performative ideology masquerading as a music festival.

Burning Man pledges to be carbon negative by 2030. Despite that promise the Climate Evangelists were not impressed. The Climate Protesters watching their blockade destroyed by Tribal police for blocking Indigenous roads might be the best part of the story.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

Seeing the climate protesters roughed up was almost certainly cheered on by the multitude of people who have had their lives disrupted by these clowns.
One of life’s lessons is don’t piss off prople who can do some thing about it. All things are possible in this world. But probably the Climate protestors will have learned not to mess with Burning Man.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
7 months ago

Club Med in Europe espoused the same schtick of using tokens instead of money and had the same post-hippy reputation for letting it all out and self-discovery ( although jaded Euros were less likely to be evangelical about it).

It also struck me that there are a lot of similarities between this and the Haj for Muslims;

1 Both take place in the middle of the desert.

2 Both involve thousands/millions of people turning up to order for a week or so.

3 Both require participants to endure physical hardship and bodily deprivations.

4 Both are a subject of puzzlement and fascination or even wonder for other people in the world.

5 Both involve personal and group rituals.

6 Both are required activity once in your life .

7 Both are claimed to be transformative for attendees.

8 Both are now cloaked in their own myths.

Verily, the modern world is full of old religious ideas gone mad.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

It is interesting post but comparisons to Haj are very tenuous.
Could I try to have alcoholic drink or pork chop in Haj?
Probably when having terminal cancer.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s funny. I woke up a couple mornings ago with the thought running through my head that Burning Man is like a modern pilgrimage to Mecca.

Duane M
Duane M
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

I agree.The Burning Man event has the hallmarks of a ritual event, with self-imposed hardships that are real, despite the fact that it is expensive. Indeed, spending money on the activity can be seen as part of the ritual sacrifice.
But I would not say that it is an old religious idea gone mad. I would say that it is a spontaneous outgrowth of archetypal psychic energy. Which is a natural wellspring for what we now call religion.

Dillon Eliassen
Dillon Eliassen
7 months ago

There was nothing in this article about that stop fossil fuels protest that tried to block the road leading to Burning Man that event goers and police broke open. Most, if not everyone, at Burning Man would agree climate change is the most pressing issue of our time UNLESS a climate change protest is preventing someone’s Burn. Not In My Burning Man!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago

Perhaps next year, the stop fossil fuel protest should be staged near the heliport set up to drop in those billionaire tech bros for their play time in the desert. You know, the ones who can’t be bothered to drive like the others.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Unless the climate protestors are not very bright, which is definitely a consideration. They will giver burning man a wide berth in future. Or get roughed up again for their troubles.

Mark V
Mark V
7 months ago

Hate to quibble but I’m not sure it’s a ‘capitalist’ lie, it’s rather the typical self-aggrandising, self-serving lie of those who claim to not be self-interested (i.e. so-called ‘anti-capitalists’).
Calling it a capitalist lie is somewhat akin to believing Stalin wasn’t a communist and real communism hasn’t been tried.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mark V
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark V

No it isn’t. Communism is nonsense, and B Man is a capitalist fig leaf for rich hypocrites.
What planet are you on mate?
Stop your lame intellectual contortions – the place is rammed full of very rich people, corporate law firm partners, Silicon Valley bros, etc. 
Here is a typical B Man attendee:
https://www.hoganlovells.com/en/neal-katyal
Is he really someone you can see out chucking stuff at the police and spouting leftie crap? Really? 
https://www.rollonfriday.com/news-content/hogan-lovells-partner-makes-harrowing-escape-burning-man
I’m a corporate lawyer and I know the culture in corporate firms. Lawyers in big firms are not even called lawyers, we’re called “fee earners”. We’re consumed by fees and by money all the time. Acquiring more and more money is what we live by. You’ll do anything and represent anyone so long as they pay you. Morality has no place in a corporate lawyer. It’s the cab rank rule. I also know the salaries / profit shares in the white-shoe / City firms. It’s into 7 figures mate, and in a place like Hogs, well into 7 figures. And you think this guy is an anti-capitalist?  Are you mad?
God love your delusions is all I can say.
What bores me about people like you is your blind group-think religiosity and your lack of self-scrutiny. There must be always someone else to blame, right? Ha ha
I’m a capitalist, and a globalist one. I love it. I do very well out of it. I live for money, and I have no time for countries (nationalism is a dumb creed, propagated by elites to get the uneducated plebs on-side) or protectionism. I also over-consume, shamelessly so. I don’t need half the stuff I’ve got.    
Your problem is that you’re an ideologue, convinced of your own unimpeachable rectitude, and that there is always someone outside of yourself to blame.
Whereas my credo, to the extent that I have one at all, is an adult one, best summed up in one of my favourite songs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_o4omd8T5c
I’m a capitalist, and i own my failings. I don’t go to burning man, not out of egalitarian or environmental concerns, but largely because I think it would be full of unbearable fake-talking twats extolling b/s adolescent hedonism. Trying to live like you’re 25 when you’re 55. All that b/s. But I do ski. I spend a lot of loot to get a nice villa in an exclusive resort etc, so that I can enjoy pristine mountains away from having to mix with rowdy poor people. When on holiday, I try to avoid the real world as much as possible, as I know what it’s like – mostly s**t. Even though people like me are damaging said mountains. The mountains would survive better without an influx of folk like me. But I still do it, as I do not want to be the first cohort to stop.
It’s a cynical and hypocritical position (obviously), but there you are.
At least I’m not an insufferable moralist, out pretending to be virtuous and that it’s only the people I don’t like who are “bad”, lol.

Mark V
Mark V
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Thanks for the mostly irrelevant diatribe and straw man batshirtery, but you haven’t clarified how advertising a party as no commerce makes it capitalism.
It’s inherently hypocritical just as socialism is – as it goes against human nature.
My position doesn’t come from (pseudo) intellectual contortions, something characteristic of your post, the logic of it sprayed around like a madman’s urine, it is only direct observation of the basic facts.

Last edited 6 months ago by Mark V
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago

YouTube has been running some ads, presumably for a sports utility vehicle, which portray a wholesome, all-American family heading out into the Great Outdoors to do a spot of camping. When they get there, alas! The skies open and rain falls. So what do they do? They cram themselves into their SUV and fire up the Blu-Ray player! Just like our hardy pioneer forefathers used to do.
To go camping, provided you’re not going someplace absolutely frigid, you need four things: a tarp, a box of granola bars, a jug of water, and a bog roll. And if your intended campsite is in an arid region, you can probably forego the tarp. And, depending on your sense of personal hygiene, the bog roll, too.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

Which is why I hate tenting. I spend nearly 50 hours a week in a building site so I don’t have to live like a tramp, why people do it for fun baffles me

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Everyone is different. I camp in a ridiculously large trailer, but my son would have none of that. Even as a small child, he insisted on tenting outside the trailer.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Wild camping – the thrill of illegality and of waking up in somewhere beautiful. Certainly has its moments. And as a penniless student, I used to use a bivvy-bag in the S of France and sleep in woods / dunes / outside youth hostels (you’d always meet someone who’d let you use their facilities). But institutionalised camping, agree with you, really can’t see the point.  

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

The bogroll would indeed be redundant at Burning Man, where the main preoccupation appears to be licking each others arseholes.

Last edited 7 months ago by Steve Murray
James Hooper
James Hooper
7 months ago

Ahh the memories of the Greyhound Bus! I did it back in 88 and travelled all of the East Coast to Florida and then longest stint was New Orleans back to Chicago. My take away from it was that everyone should experience it once
and then never again. One truly sees the country at ‘ground’ level
warts and all. Long time ago but seem to remember that most people were pretty cool
..

Ian S
Ian S
7 months ago

So the author reviews Burning Man TWO DECADES after visiting, and then postulates on the 2023 festival. For a more nuanced take on this year’s festival read Lee Fang on Substack two days ago.

Jack Martin Leith
Jack Martin Leith
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian S

Thanks for the pointer, Ian. Just finished reading Lee’s Substack piece and agree that it’s a more nuanced take.

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
7 months ago

I partially agree – both authors have a point – Fang’s defence that it is a rarely created egalitarian space is valid and I think that Harrington covered this in her ‘enjoyment’ of her experience there 20 years ago. I still suspect that Fang’s stance is bias by his participation and privilege and that most of Harrington’s points are relevant – shame that they couldn’t debate it.
Personally I wouldn’t be caught dead there, or rather, I probably would (be caught, dead).

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
7 months ago

Love Mary but must object to the idea that American cultural imperialism has been coercive. “National self-determination” led lots of cultures to prefer American cultural excess to their own folkways. I don’t applaud that – but the shift from Vera Lynn to Elvis Presley was wholly self-chosen by record-buyers of the day.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Completely agree. And I certainly don’t applaud it either.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

True. It’s a bit like a sinner blaming temptation instead of their own weak will. It doesn’t fool anyone.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

You assume we had a free choice and that there was not some colossal marketing/brainwashing effort pushing American culture

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
7 months ago

Marketing is not the same as brainwashing, and yes, you do still have free will even though people advertise their goods and services around you…

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

The extent that you exercise free will is far more limited than you think particularly when you are not aware of the manipulation.
See Who Paid the Piper (Stonor) an account of how the CIA infiltrated and co-opt artistic movements using funds Channelled through the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Ford Foundation.

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago

Usual lefty nonsense.
CIA supported alternatives in countries conquered by Communism.
I was born in one.
You deploy standard Neo-Marxists trick of claiming that people in the West are not as free as they think.
Only enlightened people like you see through manipulation.
Even if true, people in the West were and are more free then under any alternative system.
Do you see much traffic towards Russia or China or Cuba or Venezuela?
It is always out.

Last edited 7 months ago by Andrew F
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I am about as far from a lefty as it is possible to get
In my world view the CIA is a lefty organization.
I suggest you read the book

Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago

It was free choice.
Just look at marketing effort devouted to Communism or now so called “Russian World”.
No one bought it freely in countries conquered.
Only idiots in the West who never experienced reality of “alternative systems” support it.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
7 months ago

I was of the impression that this was an art festival focused on giant outdoor sculptures/installations with various ‘happenings’ around them.
There was a desert rock scene a few decades back so the alternative half of the record industry used to provide a soundtrack too. All the old drugs were available as they were in Glastonbury when you could still jump over the fence.
I can only assume, again, that there has been a disastrous turn of the generations and what used to be an American festival of surrealism has turned completely sappy.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

“Its radical self-sufficiency is a rich man’s pose”

Apropos that, some will be delighted to hear that the ‘Blenheim Estate’ is rumoured to be about to cover 3,500 acres or 1416 hectares of farmland with solar panels, generating an income of about £1 million pa.
Anything for net zero eh?

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 months ago

Brilliantly expressed.

Aristocrats slumming it of course isn’t new: ever since Marie Antoinette put on a milkmaid costume as a means of getting away from her courtiers, the privileged have been finding illusory solace in the sort of simpler living that only people like themselves can escape from if it all gets a bit too simple.

This aspect of such behaviour is not lost upon the people they’re slumming it with either, of course. I’ve been guilty of it myself to a modest extent back when I was into clubbing and a party lifestyle, though I never tried to fool anyone else that I was just like them. (The closest I get to it these days is prebooked seats and priority boarding on Ryanair).

I can’t help but think, though, that there’s no harm in conducting the occasional experiment in post-scarcity economics. The apparent hypocrisy in turning up to such a thing have shopped in advance for everything you’ll need isn’t really a problem because that’s what a post-scarcity economy actually is: one where extravagant material abundance has eradicated the economy entirely such that there’s no longer any need to trade-off between alternative uses of resources. It’s worth pointing out that this is a long way off, true, but so what?

Last edited 7 months ago by John Riordan
David B
David B
7 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“I wanna live like common people like you…”

Neil Sykes
Neil Sykes
7 months ago
Reply to  David B

Beat me to it. I do enjoy Mary’s articles but was going to mention that Pulp had already expressed it more succinctly

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
7 months ago

Perfect synopsis of today’s acceptable snobbery.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

I love music festivals, small ones with less than 1,000 people. The music is often mediocre, but the people are great. We attend one every year. This year we brought 300 Jell-O shots. It was an amazing way to meet people and have a lot of fun. People open up at events like this. They let their guard down. There’s nothing special about Burning Man – good or bad – but you couldn’t drag me to a festival with 60,000 people.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
7 months ago

It seems that the extremely well-heeled seek something simpler and more basic; they just don’t know quite what it is or how do it, so their approximation to it is not even close.

Last edited 7 months ago by Erik Hildinger
ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
7 months ago

The whole “counter-culture” was based on this. “Easy Rider” is about drug dealing; but the protagonists ride hand-built custom motorcycles, pick up a dissolute alcoholic ACLU lawyer who is clearly looked up to for no obvious reason except his fathers’ wealth, and look down their noses at the working people they meet in the diner.

Fifty years ago, they would have bought drafy deferrals and yelled “baby-killers” at the traumatised veterans who didnt have the option.

Stephen Carb
Stephen Carb
7 months ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Point of amusement dept.-my father stood up and cheered in the theater when the hippie cyclists were shot dead at the end of EasyRider.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
7 months ago

I did not and likely never will go to Burning Man. Mary’s account of what BM has become is probably accurate and sounds like it is heading towards the inevitable endgame that many original and forward thinking events and products inevitably morph into. I mean, even Mary went once in the earlier days presumably because it was a cool thing to do. Anyway, what’s wrong with someone coming up with an idea and making it happen year after year even if it something one might not relate to or agree with the politics of those who run it and attend. The implication that it is offensive is rather woke ie better not do it if it if might offend someone. Is the solution to only do stuff that everyone can participate in. And yes, part of me did enjoy the scenes of mud and discomfort of this year’s event but I am glad that such events exist.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

It’s as if some American hippy saw The Wicker Man once, and thought it seemed like a good idea.
The Burning Man is now a symbol of the Burning World we are all experiencing in real life.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The first one was just about like that – located in a cove along the Pacific, just south of San Francisco. Few hundred people. Burned big wooden effigy of man up. Rah. Made a mess though. Locals wouldn’t let them keep doing it so they found Black Rock instead.

Andrew H
Andrew H
7 months ago

Great article, thanks for this.

Ardath Blauvelt
Ardath Blauvelt
7 months ago

The corner grocer is a capitalist, one who works hard and long hours to own and operate that store. Burning Man is not a capitalist lie, it is a rich lie, told by those who never have to worry that it might come true.

Phineas
Phineas
7 months ago

Sad country going into the dark ‘Things fall apart, the centre will not hold, Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’ (WB Yeats). Two nut cases lead and are followed, Trump and Putin and Biden won’t stand up to both but Putin and his fake nuclear sabre rattling most of all (let’s not forget Trump supports his fellow nutter Putin).

Peter O
Peter O
7 months ago
Reply to  Phineas

Burning man? But Trump