by Alice Temnick

Burning Man.jpg

What does an eight day participatory city with nothing for sale look like? In this week’s episode, Marian Goodell, CEO of the Burning Man Project, and EconTalk host and Russ Roberts discuss various aspects of the annual phenomenon event that takes place in the Nevada desert and the global reach of Burning Man’s influence.

1. What is the mix of planning and emergent order that enables the annual production of Burning Man? Could an eight day “city” emerge without a central plan? How necessary is cultural acceptance of the rules of the game?

2. Rules have increased over time for the city experience of Burning Man. Is this a result of population growth which led to the holding back of tickets for volunteers/artist groups? Is it inevitable in any growth-oriented endeavor over time?

3. Goodell emphasizes the principle of immediacy and the need for human connection that draws global attention toward Burning Man Principles. What concerns emerge when the merits of decommodification and gifting are compared (or favored?) to commercial transactions as a means of exchange?

4. To what extent can or do these ten principles work within the constraints of a greater body of rules and laws (such as within the U.S.?)

5. Have you ever attended Burning Man? If so, what was your experience? Has this episode influenced your desire to participate? Why or why not?


Alice Temnick teaches Economics at the United Nations International School in New York City. She is an Economics examiner for the International Baccalaureate, teaches for the Foundation for Teaching Economics and Oxford Studies Courses and is a long-time participant in Liberty Fund Conferences.