Burning Man is a Blueprint for a Global Future

And It’s Time to Dream

Will Franks 🌊
Predict

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I have a vision that keeps coming back to me.

She’s knocking on my door, as it were.

As visions sometimes do, she wants to be spoken.

My vision is this:

It’s that Burning Man (and the hundreds of sister festivals that are steadily multiplying around the world) are blueprints for an utterly new kind of culture.

A culture that could, in time, become a global one.

The cultural DNA to make this happen is here. It is demonstrating its outrageous intelligence, festival after festival, collaboration after collaboration.

Will it survive?

Could it even replace the dysfunctional extraction machine of modernity?

Could these initial experiments help us to birth never-before-seen physical and societal infrastructures for a metamodern, solarpunk, democratic, ecological, hypercreative, regenerative next culture – at a global scale?

Well, friends.

That’s completely up to us.

Famously and amazingly, Burning Man operates on a mere ten simple but powerfully radical principles. They are a quite an amazing document that I believe could very well become a historic one, as we tend to towards the ever grander co-creation of such freely participatory cultures.

I will copy out the ten principles in full here:

  • Radical Inclusion: Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
  • Gifting: Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift-giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
  • Decommodification: In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
  • Radical Self-reliance: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise, and rely on their inner resources.
  • Radical Self-expression: Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
  • Communal Effort: Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote, and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
  • Civic Responsibility: We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state, and federal laws.
  • Leaving No Trace: Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
  • Participation: Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
  • Immediacy: Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our innerselves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

These ten principles form the social contract which enables this to happen:

Clearly, it works.

To me, this collaborative mega-artpiece feels like an echo of the monuments and temples of the great classical civilisations. These works are our offering to, and expression of, the divine creative intelligence of the universe.

And they could be even bigger, grander and more participatory… the whole earth transformed into an infinitely unfolding creative playground, a mythic universe of collaboration and improvisation and emergent beauty…

Having been to Nowhere Festival in the desert of northern Spain, the biggest European Burning Man event, it struck me strongly that the real miracle of these events are the insane creativity that emerges from the experiential space of the festival – something you can never really see or feel from a photo and never really communicate by a second-hand account. The conversations, the workshops, the ideas, the synchronicities, the dances, the jams, the connections, the encounters, the emergent creations, the moments, the questions, the answers, the sense of meaning and beauty and purpose and awe and hope and wonder…

The next question then is how to scale this up?

How to make it last longer and keep evolving for a period of more than one or two weeks (even though it’s well-recognised that impermanence is kind of a sacred feature inbuilt into these temporary popup utopias)?

I’m not saying that wider society could or should be exactly like this. Its not perfect, and it’s not the blueprint (especially important to add into the mix are (neo-)indigenous, nature-oriented, land-based cultures).

But I do think that it’s a damn powerful imaginative exercise, to dream of a global civilisation that is this collaborative and creative and devoted to beauty, love, aliveness.

Imagine what we would create, en masse, if we collectively turned our intentions towards this level of beautymaking, caring for one another, and tending to the living earth?

Art as Life

Life as Art

If it’s possible on the small scale, why not the big?

Why not the really big?

The global?

We could be looking at a seed of a fledging megaforest of cocreated utopias…

🔥 Utopias that will flourish as global systems collapse and we are forced to cooperate and to get creative with little material means. Burn events are already operating in scarce conditions (such as deserts), prompting immense creativity and practical DIY innovation in the areas of solar power, water distribution, waste management and decentralised organising. If anyone is equipped for collapse, it’s burners.

🔥 Utopias that will come to form our burning hope for a future beyond the dystopia regimes we are currently embedded in. (Probably, if we succeed in creating such utopias – a Burning Earth – they will only rise to widespread prominence after cataclysmic global system collapse. However, they could actually be the wave of cultural and spiritual and creative regeneration that lifts us out of apocalyptic darkness!)

🔥 Utopias where the architectures we live and move in serve not just profit-maximisation but all manner of soulful purposes: discovery, connection, reverence, ecstasy, wonder, mystery, awe.

🔥 Utopias where we do the work to heal the past, process emotions, build healthily-distributed power meshworks, claim our power as radically responsible adults, stewards and guardians of the living earth.

🔥 Utopias where – well, wait, what do you want?

What kind of world do you want to live in?

And, crucially, are you taking responsibility for sourcing that world?

Nobody is going to do it for you.

Nobody can stop you from doing it.

Nobody can stop us from building this together.

It begins with a burning heart, a burning hearth, a burning earth…

Onwards, dear friends.

Onwards into the unknown.

Into the future.

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Will Franks 🌊
Predict

A Heartbroken Terrified Warrior Who Is So Happy To Be Here. Meditator. Researcher. Soulmaker.