Burning Man and the Failure of “Radical Inclusion”

Great to see some other members of the community stepping up with thoughts about the ideology and evolution of Burner culture. I agree with a lot here, not every point (I want more DJs! more lasers! more bass!) The despot has nailed something particularly poignant: the cool rich kids have taken over, just like in the club scene.

Just because some nerds can cast off their default world selves and express themselves as a different character, performing as if they’re players in a wacky colorful carnival, doesn’t mean the misfit loners are going to have a good time. We don’t want Burning Man to go all junior high on us (anymore than it has already). The redefinition of radical inclusion should extend to that warm embrace of all participants. But, the efforts of Law Enforcement to disrupt the party with stings make this harder. It’s usually loners who come up to me and ask if I have any drugs they could buy, whereas the chances of the gorgeous naked supermodel surrounded by all her friends actually being a narc are pretty slim. She will probably still ask for the drugs though!

This post highlights that if someone dresses a certain way, or acts in a particular manner, the community may shun them – this is not radical inclusion of their form of self-expression, by any means. Basically, it’s act like the Cult, or be rejected from the Cult.



To me, a goal at Burning Man, has always been to minimize the difference between myself in the Default
World and myself at Burning Man. Yes I want to go wild, but why should this just be at Burning Man? I think
all Burners learn from the experience and go away from every Burn a little better than they arrived…but maybe they don’t. Maybe that’s just been the experiences of me and my friends. I’ve gone to the trouble of travelling all over the globe to meet up with my Burner friends off-Playa – perhaps this is radical inclusion of Burning Man, integrating it into our lives year round. Some of the friends I’ve made at Burning Man have jets, some of them don’t have jobs, so what? They’re all good people, and they can all Burn however the fuck they want.

I am not going there to meet 20,000 misfits with no friends, so I can take them under my wing and rehabilitate them. But then, I’m not pretending to be a “Burner” by demonstrating what a faithful follower I am of BMOrg’s Docrtines – to me, I’m a Burner because I say I am, and anyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off and stick their Burner fundamentalism up their ass! That is more indicative of the true Burner spirit of the post-apocalyptic Mad Max punk art rebels I have met at Burning Man. A better set of principles for Burners to follow is the Native American 10 Commandments.

soapbox despot

Let’s get this straight: I love Burning Man. The fact that you can come from any walk of life and be made to feel at home is a wonderful thing. I am also NOT one of those suffering from the common compulsion to bludgeon people over the head with the Ten Principles as if they were the Ten Commandments chiseled on an irresistibly aerodynamic slab of stone.

In my opinion, the principle of Radical Inclusion is the most flawed. It was poorly conceived by its writers and poorly executed by us, the participants.

Let’s start with the semantics. The Burning Man website details Radical Inclusion as “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” That’s all great. Was this the definition you had in mind? It sounds like regular inclusiveness to me.

When you add…

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4 comments on “Burning Man and the Failure of “Radical Inclusion”

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