Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Jstrat » Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:46 pm

Just curious... is anti-commercialism part of Burning Man? A read an article where a burner seemed to imply as much. Is that officially part of Burning Man, is it something that grows out of the gifting environment, or is it not an issue addressed directly by the festival?

Thanks for any enlightenment in this regard!
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Savannah » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:08 pm

It's one of the 10 Principles of the Event.

See No. 3: 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.

http://www.burningman.com/whatisburning ... iples.html
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Jstrat » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Thank you Savannah.

Yet the edict does not preclude the consumption and gifting of mass production elements of commercial culture. Is that generally frowned upon? (I.e., gifting neon bracelets or alcohol or just about anything produced as part of a for-profit culture.)
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby jkisha » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:24 pm

Jstrat wrote:Thank you Savannah.

Yet the edict does not preclude the consumption and gifting of mass-production elements of commercial culture. Is that generally frowned upon? (I.e., gifting neon bracelets or alcohol or just about anything produced as part of a for-profit culture.)

The short answer, regardless of what anyone might say to the contrary is NO. It costs literally thousands of dollars to create a theme camp, rent equipment, transportation and storage costs, etc., that if not spent with real dollars, the event would not be what it is today. That's sort of a contradiction, but it's only OK to commodify in preparation for the event. Once you get past the gate, it's a no commerce zone.
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby C.f.M. » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:42 pm

The BM principles are "anti-commercialism," BM the event is not.
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby BBadger » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:48 pm

Principles or not, the main practical reason to avoid "commercialization" is to prevent outside branding and commerce from spoiling the event and creating a lot of extra sponsorship overhead of the likes you see at big events. We don't want Nike sponsoring some giant "Swish tower" on the playa, nor seeing Coke and Pepsi vying for customers at center camp. Likewise, the only two commodities sold for currency are coffee and ice because both avoid branding but are still useful (and a pain to bring in yourself).

BM reflects what is great about truly "private" events. It's akin to having a privately funded television station that does not need commercials, nor the influence that sponsors have. The ticket costs may be quite a bit, but it is a price we pay for having a private event, and it keeps quite a bit of the riff-raff out, people and sponsors included.
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Jstrat » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:07 pm

Thank you all for the insight; much appreciated!
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:22 pm

Most of us have enough taste to cover up ads on the sides of our rental trucks if possible. But that's not a hard and fast rule.
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Trishntek » Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:08 pm

If nothing else, make some mud and paint it over logo's or playafy them to say something other than what they attempt to convey i.e. u__al or uh___ on a uhaul truck.

Duct tape can create some interesting graphics too!

Edit: the noncommodification environment creates a wonderful human interactive city. That is partly why I detest the idea of an intranet and/or texting service on the playa. It is just so refreshing to enjoy people without their electronic leashes attached.
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Savannah » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:50 am

The guys I was traveling with my first year changed the giant PENSKE into the word SPUNK. :lol:
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Re: Is Burning Man anti-commercialism?

Postby Funkpocket » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:40 pm

Burning Man is the party you throw because you have had success as a capitalist. Capital is not just money. At BM, capital is attention. Some people buy it with gifts, lights, and booze. Others give themselves to the moment they are experiencing with the people they are experiencing the moment with.

Eliminating money as capital places importance to the relationship required in consumerism rather than 'how much', or 'what do I get'?
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