Psychedelic Libertarianism: An Emerging Trend

by Terry Gotham

I recently gave a presentation on the dangers posed by largely untested new psychedelic substance use. Afterwards, I was chastised by someone who was very concerned I was carrying water for the DEA. She told me that I shouldn’t be exacerbating the problems associated with these drugs, as she had purchased them from a trusted source & used them safely. I asked what she did and she told me she was a technology professional living in San Francisco. She’d done quite a bit of research and had a very lovely time on all of the ones I mentioned. I asked if she’d tested them, and she replied that she didn’t need to, because she knew her source. And therein lies my thesis. Libertarian “every man for himself” thinking ensures lower quality drugs for everyone. Privilege and access is stratifying drug use in ways that we’ve never seen before, which ultimately hurts all users.

Picture via Cracked

Psychoactive substance use, contrary to the belief of the British government recently, has been a facet of organized society for thousands of years. However, tribal usage has slowly morphed into recreational usage, especially for the 1%. In the United States, the “bowl of cocaine” fantasy remains a much more compelling goal than the white picket fence. These privileged few have the square footage, support structures, self control & bank roll to do drugs in a controlled environment, largely away from harm or legal consequences. Others are forced to buy drugs on the street, at non-negotiable price points with questionable purities. In the last 5 years, this unnerving trend has sharpened as the 1% & 99% diverge in how they experience Western recreational pharmacology. The replacement of MDMA & LSD with new psychedelic substances such as MDPV, alpha-PVP, NBOMe & other synthetics such as methylone and the cathinones have created new problems that I believe can scale up in ways that previous issues could not.

The success of MDPV, methylone & the synthetic cathinones available in the UK, Australia & the USA is something that wasn’t possible years ago. When 2cb/2ci & the first wave of research chemicals arrived in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, you were lucky to get a certain level of chemical quality, purchased either online or offline. If you were buying something legal you were still taking a shot in the dark, as these chem companies didn’t exactly have a “for human consumption” best case practice involved with these drugs. But, 2cb was relatively non-toxic & less taxing on your cardiovascular systems than most illegal drugs at the time. The best estimate we had for research chemical production a decade ago was maybe 2-4 got from synthesis to production & sale on a large enough level that they would hit the “mainstream” of psychedelic drug culture. The number available to anyone who has done their research & has a decent network size is now approaching 50 a year. That’s 50 totally new chemicals that you can beta test with your cardiovascular system.

The problem is that for someone who is experimenting with new psychedelic substances in a controlled environment, they’re probably reasonably safe. However, more and more kids are getting these drugs not only at major dance music festivals, without knowing what they’re taking. This is a real problem that has killed a non-zero number of people, but the privileged wouldn’t know it. If you have a good network and disposable income, it’s quite possible that you won’t ever need to buy drugs from someone you’ll never see again, or that you’d even think to test. That means that over time, it becomes even less likely for someone to empathize with the needs of the average festival kid who has probably never experienced “pure” MDMA. This divergence in experience based on income & network effects is a terrible step backwards.

When 30% of the people who think they’re taking MDMA at Ultra Music Festival are actually taking a drug called Alpha-PVP…Burning Man may be good, but I don’t imagine it’s perfect. The problem exacerbates itself in an exceptionally hostile environment. Even in the perfect world, you’re still rolling the dice, which is a point I don’t think most people realize.

To be very specific, even if you test everything you buy, whether it’s from a “trusted” (family/fam/house/”that guy”) source, you don’t know what you’re getting. All reagent kits operate on a binary principle. You run the test, it tells you whether you have something. Yes or no. Not percentages, amounts, or anything more sophisticated than “this has/doesn’t have x.” From any serious industrial chemistry process standpoint, this is totally inappropriate for human consumption. Even if you’re buying from the perfect dealer on the Dark Web that has 100% positive user feedback, you’re not any better off than the person testing the shit Stevie bought from the white guy with dreads at Electric Daisy Carnival. It could still be shit, and for all we know, it might kill you.

It may seem like you’re safe because you know people who are synthesizing this stuff at the chemical labs in California, or because you’re embedded so deeply in the Silicon Valley psychonaut universe. But even there you’re not 100% safe. These drugs have been taken by 1/1,000th of the population of users of MDMA, LSD and psilocybin, so even if the drugs are safe in the micro (read: they don’t kill you at the party), we have no idea what these chemical modifications do to the safety of the substance long term. It’s easy to tell someone not to smoke because we know that cigarettes kill you. We don’t know what NBOMe or Alpha-PVP or DOI will do in 20 years. People can speculate, but the plural of anecdote is not data.

Of course, the solution to this is regulation, legalization & FDA approvals. We can all hope and dream about the days when basic bitches will be able to buy gingerbread flavored cocaine to go with their Pumpkin Spice latte. But until then, we need to be cognizant of the risks many of us no longer face. I survived being a young idiot with access, so did many of the people who read this blog. The stakes are higher now, so maybe yelling at & shitting on efforts to inform, or acclimate the younglings by organizations like DanceSafe & Drug Policy Alliance isn’t the best idea. Even if they’re never going to make it to Burning Man or think Steve Aoki, bath salts & the Swedish Fish Mafia are the most important thing to happen to Western society since someone figured out how to lower their low end import car.

I think it’s important to have this conversation & I think Burners are the only ones that can have it. Other communities either totally disavow drugs or they revere them to a point where it’s not possible to have an honest conversation about the damage they do. What do you think? Do you check your drugs using kits? Do you have friends who have ordered new psychedelic substances using the DarkWeb? Do your poor friends complain about the quality of the substances they’ve done as of late?

Private Concierge Service [Updates]

Once again, an idea originally introduced to this community as an amusing farce, has now become an established money-making service.

The Burning Man concierge is here.


concierge girlsBurning Man Concierge Service is a product of The Key Group. We are an european company based in Geneva (Switzerland) and Luxembourg, specializing in Family Office and Private Concierge services.
From the begining, we always develop some new products in order to meet the specific needs and requests of our clients. Our dynamic team is used to treat the most eccentrics requests, while maintaining total privacy and also the safety of our clients.

Going further than just a supplier, we study the request with our customers to assist them in each project. Together We develop projects proposing some new ideas, extremely targeted to provide total satisfaction to our customers. Whether to make a personal dream, any urgent need, planning some holidays, or even to please your own clients in a Business to Business, our team will make every effort to surprise you.


Following the request of a group of clients, we decided to create this service of Burning Man Concierge Service to allow you to enjoy this wonderful experience in the best conditions of comfort you can expect. With a long experience in the major festivals around the world, our team will take care of everything for you, to let you live your Burn and keep a magical memories of this unique adventure !

bm weddingplanner

What sort of services are on offer, for those who like their Radical Self Reliance to be Immediate? Everything from holding your parasol to fetching you in a private plane and designing your own art car.

To enable our customers to make the most of their experience at Burning Man, we offer a concierge service that takes care of all the logistics of their stay, and which offers the best comfort you can hope for in a desert camp.

P.Diddy's girlfriend Cassie poses in front of the couple's Pilatus PC-12, a sweet ride to the Playa

P.Diddy’s girlfriend Cassie poses in front of the couple’s Pilatus PC-12, a sweet ride to the Playa

Example of proposed services :

– Arranging and booking of flights to Reno
– Welcome and support from the Reno airport
– Flight to Burning Man in a private plane
– Skydiving over the playa
– Survival pack 
– Establishment of a camp with electricity, water and satellite internet wifi connection
– Welcoming participants in some luxury RV, comfortable and air-conditioned (2 – 4 people per RV)
– Daily water supply for the RV
Private toilets for the camp
– Musical entertainment in the camp
– Organization of Camp central tent (decoration, sofas, beds)
– Supplies additional costumes and accessories for bike decorations
– Customized Art Car for all the group with BM authorized driver
– Cooks and fresh buffets for every meal
– Snacks 24/24
– Open bar 24/24 with fresh drinks and alcohol at discretion
Possibility of ordering goods and products from outside Black Rock City every day (+24h)
– Technician guard 24/24
Physical coach and 4 times per day sport training sessions at the camp and around the playa
– Massages on request provide by the physical coach
Photo reportage and editing a souvenir book
– Organize a goodbye party for 300 person (guest + friends) in the camp (DJ)

Extra VIP services :

– Study, design and creation of your own art cars
– Coordination of any artistic performance of your choice

[Update 8/10/14 1:44pm]

cue feather girl whiteTechnically, this is all perfectly fine for them to offer – just like Turnkey Plug-n-Play camping – as long as BMOrg gets their cut. The BLM takes 3%. Radical Inclusion, Radical Self Expression, dehydrated Sparkle Ponies and Leave No Trace butt up against Civic Responsibility and Radical Self Reliance and Decommodification and Gifting and Communist Ethics Communal Effort in one big, confusing, lucrative mess. Wash your own brains. The people giving you a ride on that public conveyance Art Car or displaying that giant fire breathing statue for your enjoyment might be there on one of these packages, so think before you hate. This is by no means the only private concierge service at Burning Man.

Commenter Nomad Traveler points out that this must be sanctioned by the BMOrg, like SK8 camp’s merchandise, since they are using the Burning Man logo. must be a BOrg-sanctioned activity because:
a) it has the Burning Man logo;
b) it uses the “Burning Man” name in it’s title and domain;
c) it uses BM pix for commercial purposes;
d) they list a US contact: Los Angeles +1 323 375 0 735

Otherwise, those add up to the sort of thing the BOrg has unleashed their lawyers on. Nope. I figure it is just another way the BOrg is cashing in.

[Update 8/11/14 9:22 am] Thought it was a troll? I told you, this is just one of several private concierge services I’m aware of at Burning Man. Some people objected to their music lineup because they took it from the BMOrg site. The true story is it was just satire, masquerading as fact, yet again: an April Fools Day post from Burning Man announcing the music lineup. A big farce. For just a glimpse of the real lineup, see our post on White Ocean and keep checking Rockstar Librarian for her guide.
fellowship-of-the-fool-09783It ain’t no troll people. This is the real deal: and for many wealthy clients, an indispensable service. Their personal assistant might not have Playa experience.
The Key Group have updated their web site to share their views on the negative comments this story has generated. Don’t hate, Burners! There isn’t some special device inside an RV or private plane that suddenly makes you “not” go to Burning Man. Radical inclusion means everyone is welcome, whatever their style – except haters. Haters should fuck off.
From the Key Group:

An article about our services has been posted on the website Burners.Me, causing negatives reviews from Burners.

More and more camps offer paid services to improve the comfort of Burners. This is not new. You can also have your RV directly delivered on site, and arriving by plane to avoid the long wait to get to Black Rock City. Burning Man Sanitation offers against payment to purge your RV to take advantage of your private toilet and showers. It is a part of the most pay services you can found at Burning Man, and actually probably reserved for Burners with a higher budget…

Through this website we offer to the Burners who want to be able to enjoy there Burn with a greater comfort. We do not sell the experience, it is personal and unique to each Burner.

Also we make a point of honor to explain the principles and ideology of Burning Man to our clients, so that they are participants and not spectators. We also ask our clients to take part in a community project of their choice.

We are surprised by so many negative reactions on the services we offer, and which already exists at Burning Man for several years. Moreover, the first principle of Burning Man is not the Radical Inclusion? Defined as such on the official website of Burning Man: Anyone May Be apart of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Finally it might be good to remember, as it is also mentioned in the article that those « wealthier » Burners help support and fund many projects that benefit the entire community. So please Think Before you hate!

Burner and Concierge Antoine had this to say in our comments:
Dear Burners,
I understand very well that some of you may be surprised (or offended?) by the creation of such a service, but as the article notes does well, more and more camps offer luxury services for rich Burners. We must also not forget that many rich Burners support artists, art cars, and many other projects that contribute to the magic of BM and benefit the entire community …
In our case, and as you can see on our website, we ask our customers to support in the way they choose a project for the community. We try to stay as close as possible to the spirit of BM. Also we explain to our clients the principle of BM, and the fact that there, no matter who they are or how rich They Are, that they remain Burners first. They should stay simple and open to everyone.
I think everyone is free to live his burn in its own way, and I do not see why rich Burners would have to play the poor’s to come, especially when we know that their wealth allows them to benefit others burners of their projects and their financial support. It would be so hypocritical to force them to live a life that is not theirs…
Have you ever seen someone restrict you to jump on his art because, or come and enjoy the DJ at a party on the pretext that it was the one who financed? Are what we should then think interdict the RV’s at Burning Man, because maybe some Burners are not afford to hire one?
Also you all probably know that Burning Man keeps work to thousands of people, from the Rangers to the RV rental companies (which also deprive themselves to double or even triple the price), people who build art cars, pilots that allow some Burners to come directly by plane, … And personally I think the more important for people who work around Burning Man is to stay the spirit first…
I’m a Burner first, and I want to preserve the spirit of BM as much as you, to continue to have the possibility to live this fantastic experience. I can promise you that I do my best to make our customers live BM as Burners and not as tourists, despite the luxury in which they can live it…
I really appreciate all your posts, thank you all for sharing your opinion, whether positive or negative with respect to our services, and it reinforces my idea of ​​renewed attention to the towards the importance of the integration of our clients in the spirit of Burning Man.
 Seems perfectly reasonable to me. But then, I know a lot of rich people. And a lot of them are Burners.