For aficionados of Burning Man—the annual gathering of eccentrics of all stripes in the remote desert of Nevada—it's no secret that rich people and corporate types have overrun the festival in recent years. Many see this as a corruption of Burning Man's original radical spirit. However, at Jacobin magazine Keith A. Spencer argues that Burning Man was never radical to begin with—that it's libertarian ethos is fully consistent with the worldview of the 1 percent. An excerpt:
This is the dark heart of Burning Man, the reason that high-powered capitalists — and especially capitalist libertarians — love Burning Man so much. It heralds their ideal world: one where vague notions of participation replace real democracy, and the only form of taxation is self-imposed charity. Recall Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s op-ed, in the wake of the Obamacare announcement, in which he proposed a healthcare system reliant on “voluntary, tax-deductible donations.”
This is the dream of libertarians and the 1 percent, and it reifies itself at Burning Man — the lower caste of Burners who want to partake in the festival are dependent on the whims and fantasies of the wealthy to create Black Rock City.
Burning Man foreshadows a future social model that is particularly appealing to the wealthy: a libertarian oligarchy, where people of all classes and identities coexist, yet social welfare and the commons exist solely on a charitable basis.
Image via Jacobin