BMOrg Plots World Domination at Hippie HQ

The latest VOBM features a revealing piece about Burning Man’s relationship with the Esalen Institute, “the high church of the religion of no religion”.

The links between Esalen and Burning Man run deep. PR gal Megan Miller has been attending the cult luxury yoga hotel since the age of 3. For the last ten years, BMOrg have taken most of their team there to an exotic luxury locale to debrief, after Black Rock City is wrapped up. And during the year many BMOrg employees, allies and associates regularly attend events at the facility – which even has an “Aldous Huxley Room”.



From SFist:

The stunning 120-acre retreat is an intentional community devoted to meditation, yoga, organic food, and spirituality and was established by Michael Murphy and Dick Price. The two were introduced in San Francisco by a Stanford religion professor with whom they had both studied. Murphy, who had traveled to an ashram in India, held family property at Big Sur, previously a health spa with natrual hot springs that employed Hunter Thompson and was frequented by Henry Miller. Price had continued his studies in psychology at Harvard before joining the air force. Living in San Francisco, he experienced a psychotic episode and spent time at a mental hospital before returning to the City. Their combined experiences soon took off, as their experiment gained traction with the counter-cultural movement.

Esalen still exists as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, and weekend workshops there start at $1,750, covering subjects from mindfulness to permaculture and ecological sustainability.

[Source: SFist]

So what do they get up to at the base? Do any of them drop LSD?

The two entities have much in common — the adversity, the freedom, the challenge to the status quo, the suspicion of strangers, even the absence of a guiding monotheism.

[Source: VOBM]

Adversity? In Big Sur – really? Have you seen photos of this place? Does he mean that cellphone reception is patchy and Internet can be slow? Or does he mean getting up at sunrise to do yoga after a big night?

Image: Esalen Institute via SFist

Image: Esalen Institute via SFist

They both provide stages for transformation, without dictating the outcome of that transformation, Esalen on a personal level, Burning Man on a more overtly societal scale.

If Burning Man is overtly transforming society, I’d like to see some evidence of that. Do they mean the art car in Zappo’s lobby?

“So what can we expect from this meeting of the minds,” Goodell asked from the audience as the two men spun their yarns. “Can we discuss our plans for world domination?”

Harvey said that, like Archimedes, they both might be looking for a lever long enough to move the world. Murphy was coy, maybe a bit embarrassed, and blurted: “We’re flirting!”

The people at the summit tackled many big topics: What is Burning Man culture? What is Burning Man art? What does Decommodification really mean? How can the organization foster new affiliations? How can they deal more effectively with political affairs, government relations and law enforcement? How can they facilitate fundraising? Why isn’t Burning Man more diverse? How will the 2016 theme (“DaVinci’s Workshop”) spark conversations about money?

For the record, many of the discussions were passionate and strong. The 2016 theme, especially, provoked divergent views. “The thing is,” Harvey said at one point, “is that we’re taking on the money thing directly. That’s good. That’s what we should be doing.”

The summiteers also could pursue more personal development. They could be guided on a Hero’s Journey. They could seek their North Star. They could take part in any number of movement and meditation exercises in the very early mornings. They could “co-learn” with Esalen staff about sustainability, or go on hikes to hidden hot springs.

Through it all, the participants seemed to get the intention of the outing: They were being asked to work on integrating the interior with the exterior, to be mindful, and as the organization continued to expand, there was a need, and an expectation, to look within, maybe now more than ever.

“This is my worlds colliding,” CameraGirl was saying as she made her way back to the lodge from a session on Personal Transformation. “It’s been a dream forever … (and) it’s never seemed more critical.”

Harvey and Murphy were getting at it during their face-to-face in the tent, too: Murphy went off on a tangent about the art of Norman Rockwell, about how beautiful it was and how deeply it was appreciated, but also how it only captured “things that people know.” On the other hand, he said, “We like to open our hearts and minds to the unknown, (to) find the courage to acknowledge that you are not in control.”

[Source: VOBM]

Seeking the North Star is a military concept, that has become part of New Age management culture mumbo-jumbo. And while I see a lot of value in Campbell’s studies of common cultural archetypes, I observe that one result of contemplating “The Hero’s Journey” is to make you think that YOU are a hero yourself, just for thinking about it. We’re all heroes, we’re all on this mythological journey, and along the way we face the challenges and learn the skills necessary for a happy ending. Although this might generate warm fuzzy feelings, it does nothing to build the intestinal fortitude required to instinctively act with real heroism when the proverbial excrement hits the air conditioning.

So 50 BMOrg insiders get together to discuss our future. Then what happens? Burning Man is a do-ocracy, right? Not just a gabfest? So what gets DONE?

Well, luckily for all of us, BMOrg have announced a new team to preserve the volunteer spirit of our culture. Naturally, the team will be all made of volunteers. What will they DO? Well, Harley will attend the first four meetings. Problem solved! Burning Man saved. Of course, if volunteer culture falls apart at Burning Man, we’ll now know who to blame…(well, if they name the hand-picked members of the new team, we will). They’re also still looking for someone to raise money for the non-profit from donors, a position that seems to have been open for a while now.

This, then, is the last hope for our floundering culture. Not that our voices will be heard, or that anyone will require the Org to live by its own Principles. Not that the vast amounts of money flowing in to the sold-out and mainstream-marketed event will be redistributed in some small way to the Regional network and the artists. Not even that BMOrg will just deliver some of the things they already promised us (like transparency, or a fair contract for the artists).

Just this: that by this NPD-fuelled insider navel-gazing, deep questions and discussions about the soul and future of the event going down in hot tubs and during nature hikes, that these groups will make all the correct decisions to keep Burning Man for the Burners for the next century – and out of the hands of spectators who care nothing for our culture.

Hey, it’s working great so far, right? As BMOrg like to say “we’ve been doing it for 30 years and people have always said we’re doing it wrong. We’re still here, therefore we can’t be doing it wrong”…or something to that effect. Any problems in the culture are due to “social media trolls” or a lack of funding (please donate now).


In keeping with this year’s theme of “re-writing history in favor of the Banksters”, John Curley (who confesses to never having received a professional massage before) attempts a white-wash of the darker side of the secret base at the edge of Hearst’s kingdom (and, like so many other location settings in counter-culture history, next to a major military base).

A lot of people didn’t like, or were threatened by, what was happening, or what they thought was happening, at Esalen. Dick Nixon targeted the place for dirty tricks, like the time his henchmen tried to convince the press that Charles Manson had hatched his murderous plans for Sharon Tate while on retreat there. (For the record, Manson never stayed at Esalen.)

[Source: VOBM]

Shadow history has Manson going to Esalen to receive a briefing just 3 days before the Tate/La Blanca “Helter Skelter” murders in the Terry Melcher/Doris Day house. The “Summer of Love” and the hippie age ended abruptly, just as the Church of Satan was building momentum at the edge of the Presidio (staffed by military intelligence). The “Manson Murders” in LA happened around the same time as the infamous “Altamont” concert in SF, where Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by the Hell’s Angels in the crowd while the Rolling Stones played Sympathy for the Devil on Their Satanic Majesties Present tour. Esalen janitor Hunter S Thompson got his big break writing about the Hell’s Angels and then infiltrating them for 2 years. George Lucas happened to be at Altamont next to the incident with a ready-to-roll movie camera, after which he got his big break to make THX 1138 – a Brave New World for the 21st century which, like it progenitor, has turned out to be presciently true; and the Star Wars series – which was heavily based on both Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” Esalen courseware, and actual military intelligence occult research into psy-power going on at Esalen, SRI, and the Presidio including PROJECT JEDI.

Manson even played a concert there on his last visit – he was a frequent attendee. “Oh but he never STAYED” – weasel words. Interesting that they still feel a need to distance themselves from the consequences of their mass brainwashing, and even more interesting that they partner up with Burning Man and its Propaganda Department as a channel to do that.

Esalen was started in the Sixties by Aldous Huxley and two Stanford guys with military and elite ties. Huxley died there, when his wife Laura injected him with a lethal fatal dose of LSD on November 22, 1963 – the day of the Kennedy Assassination, and also the day Narnia author C.S. Lewis died.

It has been the center of the “Human Potential Movement”, which from very early on was infiltrated by Army Intelligence (specifically Lt Col James Channon and Task Force Delta, under General Albert Stubblebine who was head of INSCOM – see The Men Who Stare At Goats for more of this story).

The “Aquarian Conspiracy” (they actually called it that!) written by Margaret Ferguson described 15 million agents of the New Age, taking positions throughout business and government as the Baby Boomers grew up, and helping to usher in a Progressive New World Order. She worked for Willis Harman. For those interested in delving down this rabbit hole further, check out The Tavistock Roots of the Aqurian Conspiracy, The Beatles and the Aquarian Conspiracy and this and this.

As we outlined in an earlier post on Constance Cumbey’s The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, there are some incredible parallels between the ideologies espoused by the New Age movement, and those of the Nazis. This is unsurprising if you understand the history of eugenics and propaganda, which were massively funded by tax-free foundations like Rockefeller and Carnegie at Stanford and later in Germany. They wanted to control large numbers of people mentally, electronically, chemically, and genetically.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.

The Human Potential Movement and the Aquarian Conspiracy were designed at SRI (Stanford Research Institute), a major Defense contractor, by its director Willis Harman (who also founded IONS, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, based in Petaluma and featuring in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code series). They conducted a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study called “The Changing Images of Man”, funded by the Charles Kettering Foundation (Kettering developed the first missile). The research combined anthropology, computer simulations, business strategy – and maybe even channelling of interdimensional entities – to envisage a number of future scenarios. They then worked back to determine what the ideal “Man” would be to adapt to the coming new worlds. Once their desired outcome was defined, they engaged the tools at their disposal to reshape the world in their image. Burning Man is one of those tools.

Esalen and the Aquarian Conspiracy were employed to transform the self-image of Man from “Frontier Man” or “Pioneer Man” (the original American dream), to “War Hero Man” (the Democratic personality archetype engineered during World War II), to “Self Help Man” (the Nietzchean uber-mensch product of the Human Potential Movement that went from fringe thinking to mainstream over the 70s and 80s), then to “cyber punk hackers” in the 90s (used to launch the Web, the same way that hippies were used to launch the PC)…and then again to today’s “Burner/hipster” synthetic psychological archetype that is being used to bring in the Sharing Economy. A new prototype is no doubt being shaped now for the imminent Virtual Reality/Robots/Gene hacker world.

MKULTRA’s “Johnny Appleseed” of LSD Al “Captain Trips” Hubbard was a special agent advising Willis Harman at SRI.

willis harmon al hubbard letter

Shadow history researcher Jim Keith fell off a stage at Burning Man, injured his leg, then mysteriously died of a blood clot while being treated at the hospital in Reno. His book Mind Control, World Control discusses the spread of LSD and the role of OSS/CIA agent Al Hubbard:

One associate of Hubbard’s was New World Order theorist Willis Harman at the Stanford Research Institute. SRI had earlier recieved grants from the US Army to research chemical incapacitants. When visited by a representative of the underground press [Michael Rossman of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement] at SRI, Harman told the man, “There’s a war going on between your side and mine. And my side is not going to lose.”

Willis Harman hired Al Hubbard in 1968 as a “Special Investigative Agent.” From Todd Brendan Fahey’s The Original Captain Trips:

Hubbard was specifically assigned to the Alternative Futures Project, which performed future-oriented strategic planning for corporations and government agencies. Harman and Hubbard shared a goal “to provide the [LSD] experience to political and intellectual leaders around the world.” Harman acknowledges that “Al’s job was to run the special sessions for us.”


You can learn more about the links between SRI, Esalen, and the counter-culture at Red Ice: Scientists on Acid, and also in Jan Irvin’s article about Darwin, Huxley, Esalen and the Psychedelic Revolution.

How could Burning Man be used as a tool of Esalen and SRI to reshape personalities as Silicon Valley’s counter-culture designers require? We’ll let Navy robot guy Danger Ranger explain this:

It’s all about building consensus reality – while at the same time, detaching people from their previous psychological patterns, breaking their personality apart and getting them into a state of hyper-suggestibility, then surrounding them with the desired ideology. Groupthink is heavily used in this environment to reinforce the new patterning.

The epicenter of Groupthink on the West Coast is the Esalen Institute, and their greatest tool to spread it is Burning Man.

We’re saving the world! From the hot tub!

I’ll let another military intelligence guy and Esalen aficianado have the last word:

72 comments on “BMOrg Plots World Domination at Hippie HQ

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  14. Nomadtravelerforever, Thanks for revealing my simplistic mind and my inability to “old” conflicting perceptions at the same time. Also thanks for informing me of my genetics. It is always revealing when strangers criticize personally people they don’t know instead of tackling the actual ideas they present. And as much as I have appreciated the work of this site, I don’t really enjoy arguing for arguments sake and so I will leave the comments section for those with stronger stomachs. And in spite of my sarcasm, no hard feelings, I am just not enjoying this and like a typical burner will move on to the next flashing light.

  15. Dear burnersxx, thanks for responding several times to my posts but I was hoping you would respond to what I have written rather than continuing to assert that an injection of LSD killed Huxley, I did actually try to make some other points but I know you are busy and don’t want to continue to take up your time. Again thanks for the work burnersxx does.

    • I changed the story to reflect your objections. He was dying anyway. Did LSD give him cancer? Probably not. Was it the last thing in his system? Seems that way. Was it the thing that killed him? Who can say? Did he have it and then he died? Yes and I have posted links to back up my assertions. As always.

      • Also “was it only 100 mg” – so Laura says. He took it willingly so she’s no murderer , I didn’t mean to insinuate that. But the death date 11/22 = 33 is suspicious, given how AUSPICIOUS the JFK assassination has become and that we are now living in the world Huxley described.

  16. Sorry I can’t like any of the great post here but when I try I am taken to WordPress and the don’t like either my name or password. Strangely I have no trouble posting.

  17. Well, I would point out that Huxley requested his wife inject him on his death bed with 100 micro grams, which is just enough to notice. It was still legal. There is no known lethal dose for LSD (the elephant was almost certainly killed by the sedatives they gave it).

    • I agree, there is no lethal dose of LSD or I’d be dead. My very responsible campmates poured all our LSD for the week (about 100 doses) into an unmarked water bottle that I drank. It was only after I finished it that someone told me I drank all the LSD. That was a very strange night.

    • I can’t help but wonder at the rest of that barrage of “facts” when it is blithely implied that Huxley’s wife murdered him with LSD. As for the rest, guilt by association, paranoia and great faith in the all power of evil. I guess it escapes the author that a great deal of good has come from LSD and from Burning Man but then that is probably all part of the infinitely clever plot.

      • Conflating Burning Man and the Borg’s NV burn is fuzzy thinking. Don’t confuse the two. Burning Man has made a difference in spite of the Borg. But now that the Borg can decide who comes, there is less and less Burning Man at the NV burn.

      • Are you questioning the method of Huxley’s death described in this story?

        Those behind the creation of “painless concentration camps” would no doubt argue that they are a very good thing – because without them, the people would live in actual concentration camps.

        • I think a number of people are questioning the assertion in the story that Laura Huxley killed her husband with an lethal dose of LSD. BTW I am quite sure that if there hadn’t been LSD and its cultural effects as well as its important role in the creation of this medium we are speaking on (read What The Dormouse Said by John Markoff), there would be no Burning Man.

          • Drugs have played a big role in Burning Man, I agree. And if you follow the threads of “those behind drugs” and “those behind counter culture” and “those behind the Web” you start to run into the same labyrinth.

            She injected him with LSD and he died. Your argument is that those two things are totally unrelated?

          • I am not referring to the taking of drugs at Burning Man but the consciousness it grew out of. Just as the use of psychedelics helped create the consumer computer world. Psychedelics have opened people to possibilities that have transformed our societal consciousness in many ways and I am certain that the powers that be have tried to take advantage of that. However if their evil intentions opened the consciousness of so many and in very positive ways, then I guess I have to be grateful to what I normally think of as my enemies.

            But really are you serious about Huxley’s death? It is well known that when he was dying he had his wife inject him with a relatively small dose of LSD. So yes they are related in that they happened at the same time but are you really going to stand by the claim that the LSD was the cause of his death?

            I have very much appreciated the efforts of burnersxxx to shed light on the decay of something we very much love and I hope you continue, but wild claims of the LSD murder of Aldous Huxley or that all of our history is nothing but an evil conspiracy will not aid your cause. P.S And I don’t mean to deny that there are and have been truly dangerous and horrible conspiracies but that isn’t all there is.

          • John, you need to learn to old two conflicting perceptions at the same time. I know you are genetically programmed to want to put everyone in the “good” or “bad” group, but the world is not that simple. Did you ever have differential calculus? It applies to philosophy too.

          • There’s no doubt that he wanted the LSD injection, so I think murder is a stretch. It’s certainly not a word I would have used.

            If the acid didn’t kill him then what did?

  18. Kudos for an awesome post, burnersxxx, in discussing the Borg retreat, and in regards of discussing Eselen.

    How will the 2016 theme (“DaVinci’s Workshop”) spark conversations about money? For the record, many of the discussions were passionate and strong. The 2016 theme, especially, provoked divergent views. “The thing is,” Harvey said at one point, “is that we’re taking on the money thing directly. That’s good. That’s what we should be doing.”

    Yes, taking on the money thing directly in the manner of having others to pay for the art on the playa in the manner of ‘enlightened patronage’ in the place of paying for the art from the $30.5 million of ticket sales. Perchance, what might be the other passionate and strong discussions and divergent views?

      • Larry is desiring of his rich patrons to buy homesteads, or similar, within their Fly Ranch Project – link. Larry states of that ‘we’re taking on the money thing directly’, while he hides their ledger, conflicts of interests, prior cashout, and plans, from donors of art, cash, stock, and labour. Might the difficulties in regards of the money thing be of due of the saving of cash purposed towards buying the Burning Man trademarks, in addendum of the other IP, from Larry, and his mates, within 2018, and be of due of their plans of buying the Fly Ranch, and, perchance, the Hualapai playa from the BLM? Might their plans be of killing the Burning Man event upon the Black Rock Desert, and do a small event, of solely 5,000, or 10,000, people, of multiple weeks, of the manner of the Renaissance Pleasure Faires, and of the manner of Bohemian Grove, upon the Hualapai playa, and might this be, of part, of their rationale of their war on EDM? Perchance, might people, within the BMOrg, disagree with the plans and be of ‘other passionate and strong discussions and divergent views, and, thusly, be a rationale of the forced voluntary resignations within the Borg, and might the Borg be replacing any Project board members, of which, they are of a term of solely two years, in due of divergent views, towards the Borg, upon these matters?

        My belief is much politics are occurring, at present, by Larry and his mates, in the manner of November, and December, are the time of planning in regards of the next burn, election of Board members of the Project, penning of the new bylaws of the Project, the election of Larry, and his mates, to their positions within the Project, in addendum of numerous other plans. Might some of the Project board members desire to place the best interests of the Project first, and be of the belief of the best interests of the Project are of booting Larry from his positions of President and Chief Philosophical Officer of the Project? It is most difficult to do a top down control of a bottoms up event, and of an awesome community created in a bottoms up manner, when people are of ‘other passionate and strong discussions and divergent views, and do not desire to obey your rubbish.

        • You have more hope for that rehabilitated-Borg alternate universe than I do.

          The most important thing we can do now for the burner community is to get them a web page that lists ALL the other burns, without regards to “regional” status, so people can know and discuss their alternatives and make plans before the next round of ticketing, particularly the pre-sale/holiday tickets. Let people find the right experience – there are many, but presumably not as free entertainment for the rich Easlen bucket-listers.

          Let the Borg faithful go to the NV burn so they will be out of the way! Don’t want them wandering around the other burns and taking up our space.

          • The Borg does not desire to promote events, and festivals, not within their top down control, I do not desire to do so, but, there is an awesome opportunity for any Burner to do a web site of this manner, as their gift towards the Burner community. Or, perchance, the cool kids whom are throwing the events, and festivals, might have alliances of this manner. Perchance, any Burner might desire to pen a website with a blog upon the main page, and numerous pages upon the other Burnerly festivals and events?

          • I do have more hope for that rehabilitated-Borg alternate universe. The Burner community is awesome, the difficulties are in due of solely two, or three, people. Larry was in control from 2002, to 2013, in due of their 2002 agreement stated of Larry was to be the first President of their BRC LLC, and others, of the six, were to do so, might they gain an unanimous vote of the six. The difficulties were in due of Larry refused to vote for any other person.

            At present, the Burning Man Project is a 501(c)3 non profit public benefit corporation, of a board of directors of near to 17 people, whom must place the best interests of the Project first. My belief is voting for Larry as President, and Chief Philosophical Officer, is not within the best interests of the Project.

            Might you imagine the beauty might the decisions of the BMOrg be purposed towards the benefit of the awesome Burner community?

          • Hopefully the master burn list website is in the works. Here is an early but dated attempt:

            What is good is the spreadsheet that lets the user search and sort based on whatever value they want. What is missing is a way ti discuss each event, and for those discussions to update the spreadsheet.

            “Might you imagine the beauty might the decisions of the BMOrg be purposed towards the benefit of the awesome Burner community.”
            > Imagined, but not likely. Short of a class-action lawsuit or the CA AG stepping in, the Borg’s NPD will not let them change. As Vaknin points out, unlike many other disorders, NPD is self-reinforcing – there is no tangible reward to giving it up. As Vaknin always says, the best first step is to walk away from the NPD situation if at all possible. But like abused spouses, leaving is the advice that some find hard to follow. Or like the old joke says: Sally:”My husband thinks he is a duck.” Bob:”Why don’t you take him to a psychiatrist?” Sally:”I need the eggs.”

            While the Borg drama is interesting, the best advice for the Burn Community is to walk away from the NV burn and take your creativity elsewhere. After all, new venues present new challenges and new opportunities. All the effort you put into playing the Borg ticketing game is FAR better used in planning your theme camp, MV or art elsewhere. Not speculation, but my experience. Until that alternate universe pops up, my theme camp efforts will not be found at the NV burn. The privileged class safari clients will have to find me elsewhere.

  19. Just saw this on LinkedIn today:

    Interesting when you consider the several job openings the Borg recently emailed about. This VOBM link seemed very interesting:

    Not so much the team itself, but that you would need one. Pretty sure the Borg has the whole “volunteer” thing wrong, in contrast to the all-volunteer Transformus. That new Borg “team” should be focused on the BoD and their NPD business model, not the participants. As Transformus proves, if you put in place motivated and ALREADY inspired people, and just get out of their way, things work pretty well. A lot of that comes from the all-volunteer culture, and what that does to the BoD and “management,” and implicit understanding that no one is here to pay their rent. And that there is simply no over-class of those who are paid to lord over the volunteers – avoiding the coinage and control that is part and parcel of NPD culture.

    • In case the VOBM post does not make the “us vs. them” hierarchy clear, just consider this early part:

      “The staff members who were involved in this process will go to the meetings and be the team’s bridge to the office. We don’t have a name for them yet. It’s Vav from Tech, DA from DPW, Marcia from the Café and Special Events, and Stuart Mangrum the Director of Education. It’s their job to transport information between the team and the office staff to help jump-start this.”

      Got to keep them volunteers at arm’s length with some staff to insulate/blame!

    • I am sure the Borg will consider a “Team for Preserving Burning Man’s Volunteer-Driven Culture” as enfranchising the burners. Not even close, but their goal of keeping the free labor that they rely on to create the event (as entertainment for their CCamp customers) is obvious; Yet they treat it as an afterthought, on par with the “Team for Improved Porta-Potty Placement.”

      It’s obvious they are in trouble on the volunteer front, perhaps not satisfied being “stuck with whomever’s left.” Too bad they are again doing it entirely the wrong way, but their NPD won’t let them do it right: empowering the volunteers who create the event is against their seven NPD principles:

      1. Shamelessness. Inability to process shame in a healthy way.
      2. Magical Thinking. See themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion, and dump shame on others.
      3. Arrogance. Elevate selves by degrading others.
      4. Envy. Use contempt to minimize others.
      5. Entitlement. Consider themselves superior.
      6. Exploitation. Using others without regard for their feelings or interests.
      7. Bad Boundaries. Others are extensions of themselves, and exist only to serve their needs.

      What’s funny is the Borg could claim all was well before coming up with this “volunteer team” idea. It now admits that there are problems with keeping the volunteer resource on tap and under control. They can now use this “team” as a lightning rod to attract and discharge complaints from the revolting peasants, as well as to provide a focus group to test the efficacy of future propaganda plans.

    • Aside from the usual “if you don’t like it don’t come” shilling, I am amused at the VOBM comments from people falling all over themselves to be part of the volunteer side of the “team.” Notice that the character and breadth of experience of the volunteer side of the “team” is not explicit, with no requirement for representing artists, theme camps and MVs. Instead they kept the selection in-house: “To find them, we put out a call to all managers for the entire organization, and they gave us their best candidates, who were then vetted by the Volunteer Squad and selected by staff.”

      I am sure the managers are the best source. Gods forbid the revolting peasants choosing their own representatives!

    • Thanks for the interesting passage from that book. (What is the book?) It captures my current job and entire work environment. That’s why I’m getting my PhD, to get something better.

  20. Definitely one of your more fascinating articles, Zos. I went to Esalen for the first time this year, and much of what you present here was out in the open.

    The neo-vedantic pseudo-zen navel gazing spiritualists have quite the hegemony there, though their stifling hypocrisy of passive aggressive calm is the frequent butt off ridicule amongst the plebes and volunteers that actually run the place.

    I noticed in their cafeteria a few well worn copies of A Course In Miracles, on a special shelf in the center of the room presiding over every conversation and silent meal.

    Have you heard the one about how ACIM was a psyop to neuter the radicals into self satisfied spiritualist slumber?

    • Hadn’t thought about A Course In Miracles for awhile, but not surprised to see it revered at Esalen. Here is one of the people who created a cult… errr spiritual org… devoted to ACIM, and now part of IONS.

      Her husband ( I assume?) has quite the bio…

      William W. Whitson received his BS from the United States Military Academy in 1948 and his PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1956. During his twenty-two-year military career, in addition to normal command and staff assignments in the Corps of Engineers, he became a specialist on the People’s Republic of China, about which he wrote several books.

      After retiring from the Army in 1970, he worked with the RAND Corporation, Stanford Research Institute, and BDM Corporation before joining the Library of Congress in 1975 as Chief of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division. In 1980, he resigned from the Library to become Chairman of the Emergency Earthquake Taskforce for California. He served on the Board of IONS from 1979 to1992. He is currently Executive Secretary of the Foundation for Inner Peace.

  21. It always amazes me to see how easily intelligent people fall into the pattern of group-think. Perhaps it comes from insecurity and their need to form protective echo chambers. Combine that with drugs and some very strange conclusions can be arrived at. I’ve seen this happen so many times (born and raised in Northern California), that I’ve opted of participating in groups/communities.

    And after 10 years within the BM community, it’s just completely bizarre that its entrenched narcissism can continue to masquerade as something good and a model for the rest of the world. How can otherwise intelligent people be so foolish?

    • It always amazes me to see how easily intelligent people fall into the pattern of group-think = yes, that is amazing and when I forget it I come to this sight to remind myself

    • NPD is a well-established disorder; after all, it’s in the DSM. But unlike most other psychological problems is it cumulatively self-reinforcing with no immediate real reward for correcting. All you need is a good source or hook to bring in new followers for money and narcissistic supplies to swell the ranks and replace those who leave.

      Those with NPD are found at a higher percentage in management positions; but rest assured, those they manage similarly fall below average in productivity. The recent new Borg job positions prove this point – expanding staff when the number of participants is not. Also note their favor of paying for staff and their guaranteed narcissistic supplies over funding actual events. Any real burner could take their annual $20 million in overhead/profit and run rings around the Borg and their inclusive impact on the world.

      No, their real agenda is an exclusive NPD organization like Esalen or Bohemian Grove. The models are there. Look beyond their rhetoric and look at what they fund in staff and their few real actions. What amazes me is that so many burners are in denial about this.

    • From org theory…doesn’t groupthink arise out a desire to be accepted by the group, not upset the boat?

      • When I studied organizational behavior, Groupthink was described as an aberration – something that can go wrong. Now I understand it to be a technique for manipulating group decision making.

        • Groupthink, like cheering for a sports team, does not have to be based on intentional manipulation; however, it can be used as such to get people to take the desired easy path and to not think. Like sheep, people tend to move as a group for easy “protection” of the group and to avoid the need to take individual responsibility. Like a sheep dog, if you understand this and the cues they respond to, you can direct the group wherever you want.

        • BTW, early post-natal studies have shown that the tendency to form a group, and establish an us-vs-them/good-bad mentality is genetically programmed. That may be both a seed for survival of the species as well as it’s demise once space is limited.

  22. To properly understand Burning Man leadership, you must first really embrace the notion of “all about me and my needs.” Once you have truly mastered this Burning Man “cultural science,” you will be prepared to join them as one of the narcissistic worker chimps that spend their days slinging network-culture-event poop all around the cage.

  23. Thanks John, particularly for your implicit support for the rest of the article.

    Are you really saying there’s no relationship between Burning Man and Esalen, and hasn’t been over the last decade?

  24. Thanks for reading and sharing!

    A couple of things, tho:

    — Burning Man has not held staff retreats at Esalen for 10 years. This was the first one.

    — I have no knowledge of how many, if any, BMOrg staffers go there on their own time. I can say, though, that the overwhelming majority of folks I talked to had never been there before.

    — I didn’t say I’d NEVER had a massage before, I said I didn’t have much experience with them. Which I don’t.

    Thanks again!

    • Perhaps I ignorantly misinterpreted this bit?

      “There are reports and paperwork and assessments and feedback. And for each of the past ten years or so, there has been a retreat, when Burning Man staffers go away and discuss the particulars and the generalities of Burning Man.”

      There is a retreat, but not always Esalen, and not always for the anointed 50 chosen few.

      I suppose a few years ago it was a yacht in Bodrum, Turkey for a smaller group – the same thing, probably a similar travel budget. My mistake, 1000 apologies.

      PS if the photos you’re putting on the Internet to a million Burners are still precious and special to you, put some kind of watermark on them. Otherwise, google’s spiders are going to pick them up and then any of the 4.5 billion internet users might see them – and if they like them, share them with others.

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