See Doherty, Hear Doherty Explain that Tech Money Hasn't Ruined Burning Man


As I blogged yesterday, I've been being asked by such august places as the New York Times and ABC News to discuss whether the (long-lasting, but perhaps growing) presence of rich tech industry folk "gentrifying" the Burning Man festival of arts and community is ruining it. 

I think not, for reasons explained in yesterday's blog post.

I'll be discussing that on BloombergTV's Bloomberg West program (which aired once already at 10:30 a.m. pacific but will be re-airing at 3:30 pm pacific and 8:30 pm pacific) and also on Los Angeles's NPR station KCRW-FM 89.9 at 12:10 p.m.

Prepare for the wonderment by reading my book This is Burning Man, available freshly this week in a special 10th anniversary ebook edition with a new afterword, for the special Burning Man-is-coming price of $4.99. What everyone should be reading on their Kindle as they are driven into Black Rock City on Sunday.

NEXT: Jeffrey Tucker on and How the Internet Undermines the Nation-State

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  1. Has it really been ten years already?

    I met a chick a while back who didn’t know anything about libertarianism–except that a guy that wrote this really good book about Burning Man was a libertarian.

  2. Yep, 10 years. That’s a nice contribution to the cause of libertarianism, I suppose. I’ll take what I can get…

    1. You reached people who wouldn’t have been reached otherwise.

    2. Why not talk about the virtual police state at burning man instead of this non-issue?

      1. Because this “non-issue” is the issue that the New York Times, ABC, Bloomberg TV, and KCRW (proudly broadcasting from the People’s Republic of Santa Monica College) are talking about.

        Do any of these seem like libertarian outlets to you?

        Doherty is sneaking onto the authoritarian’s airwaves, and he’s making the case for freedom. What more could you ask for?

      2. I agree.
        The police presence at Burning Man has gotten totally out of hand.

        These days you get CARDED walking into theme camps.

        The idea of being CARDED at Burning Man would have been abhorrent to anyone that attended the event in the 90s.

  3. kinnath is a lagging indicator. By time I get there, you can rest assured it has become pass

  4. I had some idiot this morning send me a scan of the front and back of his friend’s AMEX so he could rent an RV for Burning Man. I don’t know the idiot or the card owner who asked for the scan to be emailed. I also don’t know why he replied to the request and then added my (similar) email address to the reply. Stupidity like that (on both sides) boggles my mind.

    Enjoy Burning Man moron.

  5. I don’t think it’s the tech-riche that are ruining Burning Man, I think it’s the Org itself. They’re just enjoying the Californian Vice (that which is not prohibited is mandatory, that which is not explicitly allowed is forbidden) far too much these days.

    They have made an explicit request of the BLM commissioner to prohibit not simply carry, but even possession of weapons in private hands at the event. (Which, for those who don’t know, takes place on federal BLM lands, which are subject to a closure order for weeks prior to, and following, the event itself.) Never mind that some people might have to drive two-thousand miles each way, and that it’s perfectly legal to have firearms in both NV and on BLM land. Nope, goddamn SF lefties love their jackboots. And it’s not just firearms. Batons, bladed instruments longer than 10″ tip to hilt, gas propelled irritants, and numerous other items are utterly prohibited, even if you keep them contained entirely within your vehicle.

    1. Guns have been prohibited at Burning Man for over 15 years.

      A worse restriction is the bans on open fires inside theme camps.

      This is a festival dedicated to fire arts, and it’s illegal to burn a sculpture inside a theme camp. You have to burn it on a sanctioned burn platform, so that the ash can be cleaned up and hauled out.

      Isn’t that idiotic? It’s a fucking desert, but you have to remove ash to preserve the environmental purity. Not just spread the ash out so it stays flat, but actually remove it. Because we don’t want our alkaline dust being contaminated with some carbon. We wouldn’t want some living things growing there to fuck up the deadness.

      You also have to pack out your grey water. Because again, we wouldn’t want to fuck up the integrity of the flat, hard, dry, surface by making wet spots.

      Nevermind that water helps harden the soil after it gets kicked up by 60,000 driving around on it, and we spray water on the roads to keep the dust down.

  6. One reason for the invasion of rich techies is that spending the week in the desert isn’t cheap. If it is to grow, it would have to be by drawing in people who can afford the ticket and the necessary equipment to make it bearable. I have a lot of friends who have gone but I don’t have any desire to spend a week in the desert unless there is cocktail service, fine dining, a pool and a lot of AC.

  7. There was tons of tech money at Burning Man in the 90s, while it was gaining popularity. This isn’t anything new. The whole thing spread via the online community The Well. Tech money and tech people have shaped the event since it’s infancy.

    If Burning Man has never been influenced by high tech people it would never have developed the large-scale theme camps and art installations that made it what it is. There were theme camps in 1999 renting heavy duty construction equipment to put up their camps. Where do you think the money for that came from? It didn’t come from a bunch of vegan hippies taking up a collection.
    If you want to know what Burning Man would look like without high-tech money, go visit Veg Camp or the Alternative Energy Zone. Pitch black at night cause they don’t have any generators. The best they can do is a string of solar powered LED lights.

  8. Slap it up to experience dude.

  9. It’s not tech money that’s ruining burning man. From what I’ve read, it’s the pervasive law-enforcement climate.

  10. But did Grover Norquist enjoy his time there?

    1. One doesn’t simply walk up to Norquist and ask him how it’s hanging.

      1. No, but you can ask him about his barf bag collection, out of earshot from his wife. (skip to 3:10)

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