Burning Man — A Fleeting Celebration Society!
Have you heard of Brigadoon? In the popular musical by that name, it is a fantastic place that comes to life for only one day in each century. If you watch the eponymous movie, I can promise that you’ll want to visit such a place. Well, we have something even better: Black Rock City; AKA Burning Man.
A stunning photo album in The Atlantic perfectly captures the spirit of Burning Man: https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/09/photos-from-burning-man-2017/538809/.
When I attended in 2005, I had multiple life-changing experiences. I left convinced that this embodies a new kind of society, in important ways.
A city of 70,000 people appears in the desert in a single day. It is gone, without a trace, a week later. This has been happening for decades, every year in August.
Some regard Burning Man as a fanciful escapist haven, for spoiled, rich people. They miss its significance, in multiple ways. It has already affected our entire culture, if indirectly. For instance, when Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page were selecting a CEO, they chose Eric Schmidt because he was the only qualified candidate who had attended Burning Man. That gave him a certain something: (http://www.businessinsider....
Burning Man is a kind of haven; yes, but it is not merely an escape. It is a paradigm shift. Use of money is prohibited during the week of the event. Everyone practices “radical self-sufficiency”, being rigorously coached in how to assure survival of oneself and others, and for thriving in the harsh, unyielding, bone dry Nevada desert. However, when people have needs, others gladly offer service. It’s a culture in which voluntarily service to others is assumed.
I will never forget the time I was out of water, too far from my camp and thirsty. As I was wondering what to do, an art car rolled up. A volunteer in the back was handing bottles of water from an ice chest. Those bottles, that ice, and that car had to be transported at considerable expense and effort by whomever so kindly provided for our needs. And that is a common experience at Burning Man!
I remember being astounded, when my bike broke, by what happened next. Since motor vehicles are prohibited at the Burn, excepting art cars, one’s mode of transport is ordinarily via foot or bicycle. When my bike broke, it was scary. I got directed to the “Bike Shop”, where volunteers using donated parts and equipment, voluntarily spent many hours out of their vacation taking care of people like me. These were people who had taken a week off from work, and probably spent nearly $1,000/person to be there. And they were fixing my bicycle, asking nothing in return.
Think about that. Other long-standing groups, such as my beloved Toastmasters, are also based on voluntary mutual service rather than exchange of value. But how many such groups out here — in “default reality” — take service to the degree of Burning Man? It’s a different kind of societal model; incomplete when considered for permanency, but, oh!, they get a lot right. It’s a model that can clearly work well in a closed-loop, temporary economy such as Black Rock City. How about a “default reality” society?
Well, yes, it will work out here, as well. The transition will not be so abrupt as in Burning Man. Capitalism will continue to be practiced until it completes itself, as I have written elsewhere. However, as more and more of the elements of production are automated — the exact vehicle by which capitalism is completing itself — it will simultaneously become more and more possible to effortlessly meet everyone’s basic needs.
My allies and I are convinced that A Celebration Society represents a kind of scaffolding for such an attainment. Many different specific societies can be built on this scaffolding, which is part of an ever-evolving model based on best available empirical evidence, in service to common Values. The first residents of such a society will establish its values, through discussion, debate, and eventual consensus. Those who can embrace and uphold the consensus will stay, and build the world’s first Abundance Game-based society. Those who cannot will leave, perhaps to found other societies. But all Celebration Societies will share a Charter, from which law and culture emanate.
Burning Man has a kind of “Charter”; an agreed set of Values and Principles that all who attend are held accountable to uphold. (For example, “leave no trace” — extreme, yet consistently practiced, environmentalism.). Our Charter should appeal to all save authoritarians and fundamentalists (the word referring to HOW beliefs are held; not WHICH beliefs are held). We have proposed a systematic method by which a group of like-minded people can bring such a society into existence. We have proposed how such societies can proliferate, while threatening no one and causing no class warfare. All of this is proposed on a provable foundation of sustainable, technological abundance — all derived from known science and technologies, as documented in my book A Celebration Society.
The book is free to those who are willing to make a simple promise. A 10-minute summary is offered here: www.ACelebrationSociety.com/Overview/
We invite your consideration, review, and constructive improvements!
Burning Man is an exhilarating experience. Many who go will see and feel things they never imagined possible. Many people think that a world free of scarcity is not possible, but we are here to say — and to demonstrate — that a sustainable Burning Man is possible.