“‘People think we are superficial.’
‘We are. Profoundly so.'”
– Michael Alig and James St. James, Party Monster
My, how far the hippies have fallen. From a grassroots culture of social conscience and progressive direct action, to a materialistic, hedonistic community woefully dependent upon the economic class structure and resource wars. From Zion to Babylon.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly those modern hippie movements that honor the spiritual and political ideologies of the counter-culture’s origin. I’m especially thinking of the Occupy Movement, pretentious yoga hipsters who are obsessed with Eastern religion, and even the Rainbow Family. I have no problem with these old school or “classic” hippies. But more and more, the modern party scene tends to be dominated by these poser neo-hippies, frequently found in nightclubs and raves, grinding to lyricless EDM music, suckling the teet of the establishment or their suburbanite parents, often at the expense of their own karma, and having meaningless sexual relationships with strangers while liquored up and tweaked out on bathtub crank.
So there’s this co-worker I’m friends with. She actually lives in the co-op down the block from me, and we sometimes give eachother rides home when the need arises. She’s a very smart person, far more well-versed in web development than I, and even has her own chiptune band. She’s one of the most liberal people I know, and is even involved in a political lobbying group for the transgendered. When all the Burning Man hooplah came around again last year, I asked her what she thought of it, and she said, “Oh, those people have such a high level of privilege, it’s just ridiculous.” And I was like: “Thank you. I’m so glad there is another real liberal in this town, because, in the midst of all this Burning Man hysteria, I was beginning to think I was the only one.”
It seems as though what the Burning Man crowd has forgotten is that the counter-culture was built on a foundation of activism and liberal politics, not necessarily sensual pleasures like drugs, psychedelic music, and wanton sexuality. And certainly not materialism. All of that stuff was really supposed to be ancillary to the far more important causes of ending unnecessary wars, environmentalism, and fighting for equal rights and opportunity. So when did the spiritual, politically conscious, and socially conscientious hippies turn into hedonistic slaves to their own desires, co-opted by the fascist system?
We can trace this cultural rift back to the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was then that many hippies “sold out”, and became yuppies. They began to work within the system instead of in opposition to it, forming companies that owned health food stores and bottled water plants, and even ice cream companies like Ben and Jerry’s, whoring hippie culture, commoditizing nature, and becoming wealthy in the process. The people who remained politically militant during this time, abandoned the naive hippie idealism that had failed them in the face of both force and coercion perpetrated against their people by the establishment, and instead adopted the cynical realism of the punk movement. This was the split between those whose values were more important to them than their standards of living, and vice versa. The divide between art/culture that represented a meaningful struggle, and mindless, feel-good pop music. The underground and the system.
In the 90’s, there was a 60’s revival that brought forth a resurgence of liberal values, including classic counter-culture hippies, but it didn’t last. The more politically conscious wing of this movement were the alternative rockers, who were really just carrying the legacy of hardcore punks and anti-establishment hippies into the modern, mainstream spotlight.
The more superficial, materialist, and sensualist wing of the 90’s counter-culture were the ravers. These were the rich kids with “cool” parents, usually coddled and spoiled, and taught to indulge themselves. In other words, the kids who were raised by permissive liberals in stead of “Tough Love” Reaganites.
I remember the first ravers in the 90’s: They tended to be the children of wealthy suburbanites, who were extremely stuck up to people outside their social circles, but within their exclusive circles, were wildly hedonistic and outgoing. The idea I think, was that outside influence from the lower class would “corrupt” the culture, and eventually, it did. When the rave scene went mainstream in the early 2000’s, there was a general consensus of “there goes the neighborhood” amongst ravers, as the lower economic classes and people of color began to include themselves in the scene. And once mainstream America caught wind of what was going on at these parties, the legal crackdowns were not far behind.
And even as the EDM scene fights for legitimacy in the 2010’s, this attitude continues. It is common to see a very materialist, sensualist, and lasseiz-faire attitude amongst Burners and clubbers in the modern age. These are people who are liberal in the sense of being open-minded sexually and to the idea of drug use, but conservative in terms of social and political conscience. It would be more accurate to call them libertarians than true liberals. Even as they are more “liberal” than say, Richard Nixon, there is still a certain amount of racism, chauvinism, and classism in their world view. And any of those hedonists who would call themselves “liberal” are those who don’t understand there is more to being liberal than sluttiness and drug abuse.
And that is a big part of my problems with this culture: When beauty, materialist, sensualist self-indulgence, and popularity are prioritized over truth, justice, meaning, and real progress, you end up with a crowd full of over-privileged poseurs and superficial people being placated by bread and circus, mindless groupthinkers who are slaves to fashion trends.
The Flower of Life is a symbol you often see worn by neo-hippies who don’t really have any idea what it means. But this symbol is a sacred religious icon, and not a fashion statement. It represents probably one of the oldest religions on this planet. And although it is good that the sacred knowledge this symbol represents has become more popular and accessible, the symbol’s misappropriation by shallow hedonists and materialists is one downside to its resurgence in popularity, in the same way that the Christian cross‘s association with war and conquest is in contradiction to its true meaning. I think of this symbol as very similar to what the Yin Yang was in the 60’s: It was cheapened by Western hippies that turned it into a cheap sex joke, or a fashion statement only appreciated for its aesthetic value, with no acknowledgment of its deeper meaning.
As a newcomer to Austin, I remember seeking acceptance by the Burner crowd and having my pure intentions be ridiculed by a bunch of immature people. I noticed that the ‘hook-up culture’ was firmly entrenched in this community, and there were a bunch of people having these really shallow, superficial relationships in which they weren’t honoring, respecting, and truly loving eachother, but instead exploiting eachother, manipulating eachother with petty games, disrespecting eachother’s values, and generally treating eachother as objects, the women sex toys and the men ATM machines. A lot of the relationships I saw in this culture were more based in petty material or otherwise superficial concerns, rather than common destiny or being meant for eachother. And the whole thing really offended me. Finally, this fashion model/go-go dancer pulled me aside and said: “Hey, you know, I think your intentions are misaligned with 99% of the people here. Most of these people aren’t looking to find their soulmate or to save the world. They don’t have all these ideological concerns. They just want to get high and fuck in order to escape the dreariness of their humdrum, corporate lives.” This is coming from a woman whom many would consider “Queen of the Scene”. And that’s when I realized: These people are posers, and the flags they fly are false advertising.
The model/go-go I mentioned… I had a major crush on her little sister. When I met her, she was pristine, an angel. It is not my custom to pursue women, as I tend to avoid fool’s errands and wild goose chases. Still, I tried harder with her than I have ever tried with anyone. But she ended up in the hands of a bunch of other guys, and I was subjected to the misery of having to watch from the sidelines while she cruelly rejected me in favor of shallow popularity, materialism, and sluttiness. Now, she is no longer the goddess she used to be, but a mere prostitute, like so many others. In the time between now and when we first met, she has picked up a lot of bad karma, and it has aged her. I no longer have any desire to be with her, and my quest at this point is to find someone with a similar look, but with moral class, education, and a bigger heart.
And in the end, was the go-go blamed for playing games with my heart, and the hearts of many others? No, of course not! Because being a professional tease is considered “her job”, and anyone she manipulates and hurts is simply told to “quit being superficial”, even if they themselves are on the same level of beauty, and have traditionally dated those less beautiful than themselves. One of the agendas of the burner matriarchy is to marry the rich to the beautiful, a la Steve Rubell‘s Studio 54. If money isn’t a factor on either side of the equation, burner girls will simply try to get handsome men to hook up with overweight or ugly girls, often cock-blocking them from any other opportunity. The burner matriarchy is incredibly manipulative in the social games it plays at the expense of men.
I hate it when female chauvinist burners give me the advice, “Don’t pursue love, just let it come to you.” Because that advice is not applicable to a man. In fact, it’s not applicable to anyone. If everyone followed that bullshit wannabe Zen advice, no one would ever get with anyone. We would all just be frozen in place. As it is, women teach themselves and eachother to play “hard to get” because they know that the harder they are to get, the harder men will try to get them, and that will result in them reaping more benefits of courtship. Basically what I have learned is: don’t ever ask a Burner chick to set you up, because they never see the inherent worth of a man and try to find him an equal or who he truly deserves, instead, they try to hook one of their loser friends up with the best possible deal, either financially or in terms of handsomeness. Mind you, I don’t have a problem with feminism, I just hate inequality, gender roles, and ego games, all of which seem to plague the Burner social matriarchy.
The women in this scene are just Whores of Babylon. Gullible liars who rule their cliques with misinformation. The kind of women who obsess over weight and food in mock adherence to the Hindu religion, but completely ignore the idea of sexual karma. They seek out these naive computer nerds to take advantage of, having fake “relationships” with them that are merely “the girlfriend experience“. I’ve had two long-term relationships with burner girls that never worked out, because they go out to these parties and I can’t go because I have to work. Then they get approached by these douchebags and feminazi lesbians who keep reminding them, “You know he doesn’t OWN you, right?” The female component of the burner world is a matriarchal fashion-police of cultural bigotry that has become corrupted by the decadence of its most beautiful, rich, and powerful members. And when they get caught cheating they use the old “monogamy is selfish” rhetoric to justify it. But isn’t sexual conquest more selfish than monogamy, as it relies on continually conquering more and more territory, even if only temporarily? The whole scene is just so pussywhipped:
I’ve also suffered a lot of social ostricization in this crowd simply because my exes tend to win the popularity contest with sexual coercion. I’ve come to accept the fact that a lot of people end up banging my exes. I just wish they wouldn’t be mean to me simply because they are insecure about it. Apparently, this is too much to ask.
I went to a burner party in Austin called Art Outside. I actually volunteered in their kitchen, cooking food for all the attendees, thinking maybe that if I approached the community as a humble servant, they might accept me. But instead I was kind of ostracized by the elite of the scene, one of whom was my supervisor. I sent her a friend request on FaceBook, strictly platonicly, as she is married, or at least as married as burners get, and I respect marriage. I really just thought maybe she could be a contact to me in that world. But I guess I wasn’t cool enough to accepted into her elite little circle. So a few weeks later I sent a her a message like “What the Fuck?” And she responed: “I have over 75 unchecked friend requests and I get 5 a day, so don’t give me this attitude.” My, what a perfect example of the female social privilege and how it renders women unappreciative of their social opportunities, and other people in general. 75 friend requests is 75 more opportunities to make friends than I have.
These are the people to whom “Don’t feed the trolls” has come to mean “ignore anyone whose opinion differs from your own”. These are the people who support eachother in error, instead of being good enough friends to confront eachother when they are screwing up. In the name of promoting self-reliance, they let people starve to death in the gutter while themselves indifferently celebrating their own prosperity. And they tend to keep themselves sealed in the bubble of this rose colored view of the world, denouncing as “haters” anyone who tries to burst that bubble with a needle of reality. They don’t seem to understand that their decadence comes at the expense of the less fortunate and their privilege is built on the backs of the lower class they have excluded from their merriment. Nor would they even care, as these are people who are only hippies for the sake of aesthetics and fashion, and not politically or spiritually.
It’s easy to tell the real hippies from the fake ones: the real hippies are down-to-earth, dumpster divers, freecyclers, people who live in communes and grow their own food. People who bike instead of driving to avoid dependence on fossil fuels and resource wars. Another big difference between neo-hippies and classic hippies is the drugs they do! Notice that the original hippie movement was inspired in large part by LSD, a mind-blowing psychedelic, and the raver, EDM, Burner or neo-hippie movement was inspired mainly by MDMA, which is a far more sensual, superficial high. Therein lies the conflict between drugs that destroy the ego and drugs that feed the ego. Whereas a psychedelic might cause people to question the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, MDMA is a purely hedonistic, sensual experience. And that’s why the movement spawned by MDMA hasn’t gotten far from the over-privileged, rich suburban kid nightclub culture where it started. Anyway, I would never sell drugs to a Burner, because most of them are rats. They talk all this anti-establishment talk, but most of them are hopelessly dependent upon either the government or the wealthy elite for survival in the modern world, and when you put them in the little white room downtown with some pigs oinking in their face, they’ll sing like canaries!
And what many of these misguided youth don’t realize is that their “rebellion” in the form of promiscuity and drug abuse isn’t anywhere near as revolutionary as they think, in fact it is quite counter-revolutionary, because the rich and the powerful are doing the same sexual and chemical decadence as the neo-hippies, they are simply doing it in nicer hotels. Someone who refuses to participate in the Babylonian orgy of mindless self-indulgence would be a true revolutionary, but these are few and far between.
What the EDM crowd also seems to really love is solipsism:
I disagree. I think society collectively creates reality, and often a reality that is oppressive or exploitative to certain individual(s). Assholes decide for others, and they pick up a lot of bad karma in doing so. When they next live, it will be they who are the slaves. This is why preservation, appreciation, enlightenment, and liberation are so much better paths to take than oppression, destructive consumption, deception, and exploitation, because the benevolent path always leads to a better place. You can’t say “you create your own reality” but then blame someone else for an equal and opposite reaction. That would be a form of “lemon tree” spirituality: privatizing the gains and publicizing the losses. The government and economy may run in such a stupid way, but the laws of God are more intelligent. If you truly create your own reality, then only YOU can break the cycle… Which often entails a repayment in good faith before one can move on from whatever hole they have dug for themselves. The universe is not unjust, people are unjust. They place upon eachother undeserved burdens, and working together can hold down very powerful beings, but everything you do is ultimately at your own expense, even if it may seem otherwise in the moment. Solipsism, insensitivity, conceit, and lack of social conscience are not the path to enlightenment.
Some say, “attain wholeness and everything will flock to you”. But the truth is that these philosophies are merely rationalizations for our privilege at the expense of others. We live in a community, we are not individual brains in vats, experiencinga virtual reality. We must learn to coexist and not simply retreat into our selves, or dominate and exploit others. Both are self-serving philosophies that do not ultimately serve the self or others, but simply condemn ourselves at the expense of everyone. Resource income is finite, but as Gandhi pointed out, “There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”
As someone who acknowledges the impact of other minds on my reality, and mine on theirs, I feel as though my solipsism has been broken by my empathy and sensitivity. But without those things, solipsism will persist in someone’s mind, making them sinkholes that exploit the world through willful ignorance of and negligence towards others, and lack of appreciation.
All truth is relative to a certain degree, because we all have our own unique perceptions of the world that we carry with us, and wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same? However, there is also a certain amount of objective truth. No amount of wishing or hoping would make an airplane fly if it were designed upon the principle that 2+2=5. Would you ride in such a plane? I wouldn’t.
I also find a lot of victim-blaming going on in this community.
If there is one thing that the clubbers of Austin have shown me, it’s that hedonism is made much more immoral by a cliquey, exclusionist, elitist attitude. Blessed are those who share their pleasures with others in the name of social justice. The scenes where this happens are scenes that I tend to gravitate towards, especially the punk scene, which I feel is a world obsessed with social justice. The music of the EDM scene can be appealing, but I find the common attitudes there can be a bit repugnant in their conceit, blissful obliviousness to the problems of others, and lack of social conscience. I hope Burners like it when things are on fire. I hope they like the desert. And I especially hope they like it hot. Because their whole scene reeks of bad karma.
This is now my standard response to victim-blamers, and the socially negligent:
Whenever I hear a lassiez-faire hippy girl try to project her own victim complex onto me, I have a strong urge to take her to Darfur, and see if she has the pomposity to tell a little girl systemically raped by a warlord government that there are no real victims, and it’s all in her head.
The problem is that there are two concepts at play here, and as someone who has a degree in Psychology, I understand both. Unfortunately, this concept of Blaming the Victim became a subject of mass awareness, and thus a cliche.So people started playing the victim card even when it wasn’t really applicable. This became called a “victim complex“. (It’s all everyone else’s fault, denial of personal responsibility, etc…)This had the unfortunate effect of discrediting the actual victims.
So what we frequently see these days is people with victim complexes psychologically projecting that complex onto an ACTUAL victim. Which is not at all appropriate, because it is an egregious injustice, and the worst form of victim blaming there is. The whole philosophy is basically “stop hitting yourself”, but being perpetrated by those who claim to be adults.
This is the kind of phenomena we see when pop psychology causes people to think they understand sophisticated concepts when in fact those concepts have been grossly oversimplified. Perhaps you should get a degree in Psych/Neuro like me, then you would be more able to tell the difference between a Victim Complex and an Actual Victim.
Even victims can be happy. They can learn to live with whatever they have been deprived of by a cruel world. But that doesn’t make it fair, that doesn’t mean they aren’t owed reparations.On the other hand, someone with an unhealthy habit who suffers the DIRECT consequences of that habit (let’s just say, gambling, because most of the consequences of drug use are legal, which is an artificial consequence that adds injury to injury). But let’s just say gambling, since it has the inherent consequence of losing money. And then the gambler can’t pay his rent. If he then says, “This is all the fault of that roulette wheel/racehorse/football team”, or maybe even, “My Dad didn’t raise me right,” or “Everyone is out to get me,” Those are all victim complexes. Often time the only way to avoid enabling someone who exhibits such behavior is to let them suffer the consequences of their own bad behavior, until they are driven by consequence to change that behavior.But someone who has suffered systemic injustice (drug war, police brutality, rape, robbery, etc): Those are actual victims, who deserve empathy, social support, and if possible, reparations paid by the people who victimized them. Often though, what I have found is that those with guilty consciences will simply give to charity instead of their victims, thus assuaging their own guilt, but leaving their victims in the cold.
The biggest problem I’ve ever seen, personally, is when a person’s situation is deteriorating so badly that no one wants to get involved. Thus, more and more rationalization is applied to avoid helping or even continuing to victimize someone who is down on their luck.You see this all the time in societies with Laissez-Faire attitudes. “Oh, he’s just a loser, that’s his problem. It certainly has nothing to do with the fact that we beat him up and steal his lunch money every day.” Some people are victimized early on in life and then get typecast as the victim, and are put in a victim class of people who are considered “fair game”. This happens with cultural prejudice and institutionalized bigotry (the Drug War, Predatory Lending). In these cases, it *really is* ‘society’s fault’.But yes, there are some people who play the victim card when it is not appropriate, and in doing so, they discredit actual victims. So neither the Victim Complex or Blaming the Victim is good, but the point is to be able to tell one from the other.
I hate to bag on the whole burner crowd, but I have found a lot of the club kids and burner girls to not be the greatest people in the world. I like some of their art and music, but I would rather hang out in scenes that pride themselves in social conscience. That’s why I involve myself with the punk crowd, certain local business concerns, and anarcho-socialist political activism. I would love to involve myself more in the academic community if I had the time, energy, and money, but whatever…
I think about all the people that shunned me in the EDM scene and it’s like,you know, all I wanted from them was legit friendship. Get to know me and point me in the direction you think is right… But they couldn’t even do that without running games. It’s whatever, though, really. I laugh about it now. Totally their loss. Over petty differences, these people have kicked me out of their so-called “community”. This one guy even had the audacity to suggest that Miley Cyrus is punk, and when I politely explained to him how he was wrong and what he said was offensive to punks, he de-friended me! And it’s like, really, dude? You’re gonna make things awkward between us every time we see eachother out over something so petty? And then there are the same old ego games with other swinging dicks trying to get the same girls as me…
Anyway, I feel like more mature crowds are where I will find those that can empathize with me, and yet haven’t been around too much, sexually. In other words, other intellectuals, not shallow hedonists. You don’t have to sacrifice cool for intelligence or vice versa. There are acceptable middle grounds out there, you just have to get out of the mainstream and into the little niches to find them. And the EDM/Burner crowd has become mainstream. Corporate. Government-approved.
Which is reflected in the fact that many in the burner community are Democrats or Libertarians, people who believe in both the false authority of popularity and the false authority of money. And both types of people persecute minorities. The persecution of minority by democracy, and the tyranny of majority will, is the trial of the unique by those who conform, rationalized via popularity contest dominated by the ignorant and stupid. A Republic differs from a Democracy in that it is majority rule, but with rights reserved for statistical minorities. I think it is a shame that neither Republican nor Democrat in modern America understands this, which is a big part of the reason why I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Conservative Libertarianism is the belief that oneself should be free, materially and sensually, even at the expense of the environment and the under-privileged. Liberal Anarchism is the belief that the world ought to be free, even at the expense of oneself, not only for ideological reasons, but for the sake of one’s own karma. But politics are very misunderstood by the Burner Community, who often label anyone who attempts to discuss political matters as “too political” and tells them “go back to Occupy”.
The message I have gotten from the government is that wild partying is fine (as long as you let the crooked local authorities wet their beaks), but don’t try to temper it or balance it out with meaningful spirituality and basic morality, or else it’s some kind of offensive sacrilege that no one respects. In other words “don’t get your religion in my drug orgy”, because this is a lawyer society where what’s legal are lawyer vices: lying, adultery, stealing, and alcohol. And the church is thought of as a place totally separate from that, where we go to beg forgiveness. It’s a recipe for repression and denial. Just as liberal fascism is a recipe for censorship and revisionism.
Also, there is a disdain for science in this community, even though they are dependent upon technology, and a tendency to use false, new-age spiritual values to rationalize one’s own hedonistic shortcomings. And that is a big part of the reason for the split between Occupy and Burning Man. Burners are people who idolize politicians that think for them instead of thinking for themselves, and supporting those who challenge the unjust rule of law and respecting people who make sacrifices in fighting the system that oppresses us all.
I think it is the role of a church in society to tell people how to live with eachother in a way that is civil. I think it is sad we have a society where there are no values, just empty, meaningless entertainment. I don’t think it’s sinful to enjoy life, but I feel like, without some moral direction, people revert back to these animalistic roles and the result is an unhealthy community of ego games, insecurity, repression and denial. And yet the closest thing we have to churches are these spiritually dead, bigoted, dogmatic brainwashing centers where people are too cloistered and judgmental to be relevant to the mainstream. Churches need to be allowed to get hip, and cool people need to add depth, dimension, and social conscience to themselves. Only a church that makes concessions to moral hardlining with regards to sex and drugs could accomplish this. The system is powerless to help us, so we have to create social institutions that can help. This is one of the reasons I have been fighting drug laws on the grounds that they are unconstitutional, in that they oppress my Freedom of Religion. But I have received zero support from the Burner “community” in this arduous endeavor, in fact most are so hateful of me for petty reasons, they probably hope I’ll end up in prison.
But don’t ever tell a burner they need to get their skank asses to church, though. They are notoriously superficial and would probably not tolerate the lecture, because they don’t want to hear anything they disagree with that might offend their sensibilities. And there are plenty of douchebags in this community as well, guys who see it as their “fuck-it list”. The thing is that social patriarchy is the idea that men should make social and sexual decisions for women. And even though feminists resist this, their chauvinism causes most of them to end up with patriarchs who pursue them, while leaving unselfish, non-interfering men to die alone in a cage of involuntary celibacy and social isolation.
But that’s my point to hedonistic neo-hippies: Deepen yourself. Add some dimension to your character. Read a book. Learn something. Hang out in a place where the music isn’t blaringly loud, preventing meaningful conversation and retarding the ability to actually get to know someone. Don’t just dance around like an idiot to meaningless music with a head full of goofenthal. Otherwise, you might as well be a Sparkle Pony.