Going on now, in your local Nevada desert.
I’ve actually seen that part of the dessert. It’s near Gerlach, and as a kid, I was in the area 120 miles north of my hometown of Reno two or three times with my dad. That’s irrelevant, I know, just a perspective.
I was first made aware of the Burning Man event in the early 90’s via my subscription to Reason Magazine, whilst living in France. Already a proto atheist (dumping the fantasies my parents taught me, taught to them by their parents), and anarchist (dumping the fantasies voters taught me, taught to them by other voters), I simply did not get it and never bought the schtick they were selling.
I still don’t, and the divide has has only widened; and plus, I’ve talked to many Big Fans who go every year and have yet to detected a true individualist brain cell among them. I’m sure it’s just me.
Rather, what I’ve always detected is a form of Marxist Labor Theory of Value turned towards “art” and “free expression.”
…They worked really really hard at creating piles of poop, mud pies, blotches & splurges on canvas, clanging noisy stuff together—or they just like to get drunk, smoke stuff, and run ’round nekid—and all this “hard work” and “attention to detail” just isn’t appreciated in society at large. So it must be that they’re being oppressed and repressed by “The Man.”
In other words, they don’t understand markets and the underlying reason they find a need to go 100 miles out into the desert to celebrate their “independence.” Most rational, well-adjusted folk have no interest in the crap they’re peddling and it has nothing to do with institutions, laws, or anything of the sort. They just understand that stinky shit is stinky shit, and don’t have time to indulge in fantasies that their their market failure is due to oppression because they’re just not understood.
Of course, this same identification applies to lots of stupid shit you see now, such as on college campuses and the catalogue of “liberal arts” courses…which all ought to have the subtitle: waiting on tables and working for tips in restaurants, forever.
…I’ll stipulate that there are undoubtably fine artists and expressionists that are are fans of Burning Man, and I’m sure they have reasons for participating that don’t fall under my generalizations….