In-depth look at The 10 Guiding Principles

The Electric Fencepost

Burning Man and associated Regional Events base themselves on some fundamental guidelines, or the 10 Principles. In this series over the next 10 weeks we will focus on each Principle in detail.
This week features Principle 1: Radical Inclusion

This idea centers on the fact that anyone, and from anywhere is invited to attend and participate in a burn style event. There is no official set of minimum requirements other than a willingness to understand what the event is about and to do your part. While there are prohibiting factors like money and ability, inclusion refers to the aim to be non-discriminatory, actively anti-racist / anti-oppressive and open to all walks of life as much as possible.

That said, it is not for everyone either. Burning Man style events hold wide ranging appeal to anyone who seeks to look beyond the obvious, is inspired by people, art, possibilities and opportunity. So the only restrictions the event places on who is invited are based on limitations everyone sets for themselves, their boundaries and willingness to push them.

This Principle in particular at times gets criticised when Silicon Valley billionaires descend on Burning Man with air conditioned RVs and high tech equipment. Admittedly, Regional incarnations, including our own Kiwiburn, are less affected by this. Nonetheless, there is a perception that burn events tend to be frequented more by white, educated, reasonably well earning folk, and may thus not be as ethnically diverse as the Principle should suggest. Whilst this is slowly changing with every year, there are complex reasons as to why isn’t completely unfounded. The origins of Burning Man were primarily driven by white men though of course not exclusively. It could also be argued that radical inclusion is a lot easier to advocate if you’re less likely to have been discriminated against based on race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.

Whatever the criticisms, the Guiding Principles do not strive for perfection, but rather encourage participation, forward thought and healthy discussion. All Principles are also open to interpretation and can mean different things to different people.

Next week: Principle 2: Gifting