The 10 Principles



Introduction: The Philosophical Center
by Larry Harvey
Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey introduces the 10 Principles blog series, framing this ongoing conversation, and invites your participation in the discussion.

Read the 10 Principles as they were originally written by Larry Harvey in 2004.


A Few Ground Rules for Talking About the 10 Principles
by Caveat Magister
It’s important to understand that the 10 Principles are neither unlimited nor exclusive goods. They are meant to describe Burning Man and offer inspiration for Burners, rather than describing everything important in the world or justifying everything we do.

Commerce & Community: Distilling Philosophy From a Cup of Coffee
by Larry Harvey
When most people say that any thing or act is too commercial or has been commercialized, very few of them mean to say that the practice of commerce is necessarily bad. Instead, they are expressing the feeling that something essential — something that should never be bought and sold — has been commodified. This is why we have always been careful to use the words “commodify” and “decommodify”.

Does Your Gift Make the Playa Less Lonely?
by Caveat Magister

The gift culture, then, is most useful because it is a social lubricant – a legitimate way of reaching out to our fellow human beings that is non-exploitive and establishes a connection between people who have no other reason to talk to each other. It has nothing to do with an “economy” but everything to do with breaking down the barriers that isolate us as human beings.

Radical Inclusion, Plug-and-Play, and P.Diddy
by John “Halcyon” Styn
Do DPW participate better than Temple Builders? Who participate better than small sculpture artists? Who participate better than art car creators? Who participate better than theme camp organizers? Who participate better than costume artists? The beauty of Burning Man is that we all find the best ways for us to gift. We all figure out the best way to play our role. The system works because we all answer the question differently. We are all unique cells within a massive organism.

What Does it Mean to Have “Decommodification” as a Principle? [VIDEO]
by Caveat Magister
Are YOU a commodified object? This entertaining and informative video sheds light as it will shift your perspective on the often-misunderstood principle of Decommodification.

Why Doesn’t Burning Man Take a Stand?
by Will Chase
Now and again somebody tries to tempt (or badger) the Burning Man organization into taking stand on a political issue. Why does Burning Man resist that temptation? The answer is simple: Radical Inclusion.

The Barkinator — Testing the Limits of Radical Inclusion
by Tony “Coyote” Perez
Radical Inclusion sits at the cornerstone of the Ten Principles. It assembles the community in the first place where the other principles direct it. It’s also one of the tougher ones to hold to. Allegiances can be challenged when Techno Surf Camp, for instance, find themselves parked next to Camp Carp’s Black Sabbath Pancakes.

Consensus, Collaboration, Hierarchy, Authority and Power
by Larry Harvey
All of our work together is in service to a gift, and this should always be regarded as the source of the power that holds us together.

Technology and Immediacy at Burning Man (A slightly less than Socratic dialogue)
by Caveat Magister
The appropriate response to new technology is not to angrily retreat into the corner hissing and gnashing your teeth: it’s to ask “Okay, how should we use this?”

Ten Principles Applied to the Real World

Gifting the Seed of an Idea
by Jess Hobbs

In 2009, Mary Clear, co-founder of Incredible Edible, did a very unusual thing. She lowered the front wall to her yard and encouraged passers-by to walk into her garden and help themselves to free vegetables.

Why the 10 Principles? Because you never change the world the same way twice
by Caveat Magister

Exactly what our principles mean when applied to social issues is an enormous question mark that will first be straightened out by the people applying them.

Coyote Nose the 10 Principles – Red Wagon
by Tony “Coyote” Perez
They had learned their interactive lessons well and were eager to bring these igneous coals to un-cut territory. They were like the ancient nomads packing the embers of their campfires along with them to spark the next lodge. One of the burning embers that my campmates had brought was that of “gifting”.

Education is Everything: Better Behavior Through Learning
by Dan Terdiman
As a Greeter, I discovered one of the most wonderful, but confounding elements of our community: That while our members often arrive ignorant of key Burning Man principles, we mean well, and once informed of them, we do our best to follow them.

Radical Inclusion: From Jesus to Jedi’s to Juggalos
by John “Halcyon” Styn
As we congratulate ourselves for casting off the chains of our socialization, it can be tempting to judge others who have attached themselves to belief systems or communities that differ from our own. But the whole point of Radical Inclusion means accepting those who have taken different paths and express themselves differently.

Research Tip for Burning 365 Days a Year
by Caveat Magister
One of the extraordinary things about Burning Man is the way in which it collapses the borders that keep us apart. The “Gifting Economy,” Radical Self-Expression, Radical Inclusion, Communal Effort, Decommodification, the visceral experiences we have, the unexpected moments that flash like lightning … these are all things that give us an excuse to reach out to each other … more than that, to reach out to each other honestly, and speak from the heart.

Ten Principles in Action (When Principles Collide)

How the West Was Won: Anarchy vs. Civic Responsibility
by Larry Harvey

For those of us who marched out into the Black Rock Desert in 1990, there was an underlying irony awaiting us…. because there was no context in the desert apart from the context we created, we actually became the Establishment, as organizers of an event. Slowly, step-by-step, circumstances drove us to invent a government. Without intending to, we’d stumbled onto the principle of Civic Responsibility.

Connectivity vs. Immediacy
by John “Halcyon” Styn

In this video blog (or “vlog” in the parlance), Halcyon discusses the principle of Immediacy and its inherent conflict with the socio-technical realities of modern civilization.

Does wearing a utilikilt and fuzzy boots make you more “authentic?”
by Caveat Magister

Nobody gets authenticity points for following the 10 commandments: why should they get them for following the 10 Principles?

Radical Inclusion: That’s So Gay?
by Jessica “The Hun” Reeder
One could argue that using casual offensive slurs amongst friends is a form of Radical Self-Expression. But how does it impact the principle of Radical Inclusion?

Why The 10 Principles Will Never Help You Win Your Argument About Burning Man With The Shirt Cocking DJ You Hate So Much
by Caveat Magister
The guidelines of culture are designed, at heart, to tell us which side of a line we’re on, and what we have to do to stay there. Which is exactly where the comparison breaks down for Burning Man, because the 10 Principles DON’T minimize ambiguity. On the contrary: they generate it.