Judd Weiss Deconstructs Influence of Burning Man on 2016 McAfee Campaign

Former candidate for the 2016 Libertarian vice-presidential nomination Judd Weiss appeared on a 2018 FreedomFest panel titled, ”Burning Man and Libertarianism.” He was joined by Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax reform; Rebecca Gasca, Burning Man Ambassador; and Avens O’Brien, Chapter Leader of Ladies of Liberty Alliance.

A partial transcript of his comments follows.

Audio of the complete session can be ordered HERE.

WEISS: “The freedom to be crazy is the freedom to be deep.” That’s how I think about Burning Man.  That’s a quote that I heard from Nathaniel Branden who I was very close friends with before he passed away. He was a protégée to Ayn Rand for many years. … Up until about two years ago I have been best known for my camera.  I’ve been taking a lot of photos of libertarians. There are a lot of these black & white photos on Facebook. At this point there are at least 40,000 Facebook profile photos out there that are mine.

(NOTE: see, https://www.facebook.com/juddweiss)

I am massive rapid-fire trying to make these nerds look cooler, one nerd at a time.  I think I’ve done a pretty good job of influencing the image of the scene. Burning Man has been a huge influence on me. I have been to Burning Man one time; I have not been back.  It is harsh.  You are in the dirt. Dust comes into every bit of you – up your nose, in your drinks – you cannot avoid the fine playa dust; it’s everywhere.  I am not an outdoorsy guy; I love my sterile environment of nice cities.  So camping in the desert in the fine dust playa is probably the worst thing. But what Burning Man has done, is that it has influenced all of these other events, even in the liberty scene.

How many people here are familiar with Voice and Exit?

(NOTE: see, https://www.voiceandexit.com)

A few.

Voice and Exit is a conference in Austin, Texas. They have this thing called the Blooms Festival. It is so beautiful; they have clearly been influenced by Burning Man because Burning Man allowed for everyone to bring crazy ideas to the table.  The freedom to be crazy is the freedom to be deep.  The fact that you no longer have to conform means that you can come up with different ideas and bring other things to the table.

. . .

So Burning Man to me is not just about Burning Man itself, it’s about the massive impact it has had on the world.  I was in Australia; they have an Australia burn. There is Africa Burn. There are these Burning Man imitations that are all over the world, but then there are so many events that have been massively influenced.  All of these straight-up music festivals like Lightening In A Bottle, Symbiosis, and this other libertarianish event called Ephemerisle, which is like Burning Man on the sea. It started with these techno-libertarians; it’s like a camp at Burning Man split off.  They are more techies, so they build a floating city for like a week of houseboats with these bridges between each other.  It’s pretty impressive how they created this land for a week.

So I am seeing that and I tried to bring this element of imagery and influence into the liberty universe, because the liberty universe has been dry academic for a while.  The imagery, the experience around it, has been pretty stale. I think we have been suffering from an image problem for a long time. A lot of influence can be gathered from Burning Man. Just the general openness of, bring something to the table; we are not restricting you.  We just want to see what you bring to the table; that’s what Burning Man brings.

Are many people here familiar with John McAfee?

He sold McAfee Antivirus for $100 million, retired in Belize, ran into some corruption, escaped from a manhunt through the jungle and then ran for president in America after he was broke in the Libertarian Party in 2016.  I was his VP running mate; I ran with this maniac. “The freedom to be crazy is the freedom to be deep” applies to John McAfee tremendously.  He allowed himself to disregard all the rules, and just do whatever he felt like doing, and that allowed me to something really cool with this campaign because I had a savage and had to reimagine him as an art-piece.

(Laughter)

WEISS: I think I did a pretty decent job.  I had Burning Man featured in one of our videos. There’s that old Steve Jobs Apple ad, “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” – hugely inspirational to me. It said at the end of it, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” It was a really beautiful ad, so I repurposed that concept as an ad for McAfee.  I had all these clips, and in those clips, I had Burning Man. I had another video I did with McAfee where I brought some more festival community stuff.  So the point is that I used that Burning Man inspired imagery into the liberty scene to great effect.  I think it will do us well to gain a lot of inspiration and pay attention to what these festival communities are doing.  Thank you so much guys.

(Applause)

. . .

NORQUIST: I was invited to Burning Man by Larry Harvey and Marion because the government had been extorting money from Burning Man and pushing them around, and demanding all sorts of things to get the permits that you need to be there. Someone had suggested that they chat with me and see what we could to knock some of that down.  So we talked and I came up with some ideas.  Then they said you should come to Burning Man. . . . I run a taxpayer group – I’d be a Libertarian except they overstate the case for a central government – the one thing I would argue is that Burning Man is not Woodstock.  There are not a bunch of bohemians. There is tremendous artwork. The amount of work that goes into building this community that shows up for a week and then disappears – there’s work putting it together, there’s work making it happen, there’s work taking it apart again.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s a lot of work. There aren’t any lazy people; there aren’t any bohemians waiting around just watching what goes on. . . . It is radically different from Woodstock or something along those lines.  I wrote a piece (about that) for The Guardian.

(See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/my-first-burning-man-grover-norquist)

IPR covered Grover Norquist’s 2015 appearance at Burning Man HERE.

24 thoughts on “Judd Weiss Deconstructs Influence of Burning Man on 2016 McAfee Campaign

  1. Andy

    Nice that this article has been posted. I have two articles that I posted, one yesterday, and another a couple of days ago before that, which have yet to be posted.

    I am getting sick of this BS.

  2. Andy

    William Saturn, I don’t know why your status was downgraded, but my was downgraded for a completely bogus reason that does not stand up to intellectual scrutiny.

    Mine was taken away because I posted a video where Owen Shroyer from Infowars.com interviewed Austin Petersen. This was during the early stages of Austin’s run in the Republican primaries for US Senate, so Austin had only recently left the Libertarian Party. Austin Petersen had come in second place at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention for the presidential nomination, and he had worked at the LP National office back around 2008-2010 or so. There had been multiple stories right here on IPR about Austin Petersen, so it is not like he was unknown to IPR, or to the Libertarian Party, or in minor party circles. Around 1 minute and 43 seconds into the video, the topic of Austin’s time in the Libertarian Party came up in conversation. So this video was perfectly appropriate and on topic for IPR, but even so, I was attacked for posting it, and I was told that I had to post a note along with the video explaining why the video was relevant to IPR. I pointed out the reasons why it was appropriate for IPR, which should have been clearly apparent to anyone, yet I was still told that I absolutely had to post a note along with the video explaining why it was on topic for IPR. I thought that this was absurd, but I ended up doing it anyway, although it took me a few days to get back to it, because I was busy working at the time. So I posted the what I thought was unnecessary note about why this video was relevant to IPR, but even though I did this, I was demoted here, because my ability to post articles was moved to a status where somebody had to approve the article, as if I was some kind of baby or person who was not trustworthy, even though I have been posting at IPR since the site started in 2008, and even though I was a regular poster at the sites that were forerunners of IPR, in Third Party Watch, Last Free Voice, and Hammer of Truth. I also know and have met several of the posters here in person, and in addition to this, I am the only person here who has contributed any original journalism lately, as I have gone to a lot of trouble to conduct interviews with multiple people who are of interest to the minor party and independent candidate world.

    So basically, I got screwed and stabbed in the back for no legitimate reason.

  3. Andy

    My guess is that it is a part of a crackdown on free speech, and that certain people don’t want to get caught posting troll comments here (IPR editors can see the IP addresses of posters, and I did in fact catch somebody trolling here, although I never revealed who it was since the troll comments I caught this person leaving at that moment where I caught them did not rise to the level of me exposing them, and just in case people wonder who it was that I caught trolling (a few months prior to my status getting demoted), it was somebody who has been a regular here).

    Also, remember last summer dirtyLeftist (dL) took down some news articles I posted in an Open Comments thread, which, as the thread name implies, is supposed to be for open discussion,
    and in addition to this, it was also relevant to discussions on the site, about crimes committed by Muslim migrants from the Middle East or Africa, one of which included a young girl in Idaho of around the age of 5-7 having a knife held to her throat as she got raped by some older migrant boys in an apartment complex. Taking down these news articles was a pure act of censorship with no justification behind it, other than poking holes in the worldview of dirtyLefist, and there were other posters who pointed this out at the time.

  4. Andy

    Oh yeah, interesting article above. I have no problem at all with this article. I am just happy about my articles taking so long to appear here, and about my staus being demoted for illegitimate reasons.

  5. Andy

    Whoops, I meant, “I am just not happy about my articles taking so long to appear here,” above.

  6. Libertydave

    William Saturn, you mean like the two trolls that have hijacked this thread to bitch about IPR.

  7. Andy

    My point was not to troll (nor am I hiding behind a fake name and IP amonymizer).

    I was merely lamenting over my articles being held up for days, or a week, or longer, while Joe Buchman or David Noonan (never heard of this guy until recently) or etc.. have their articles go up immediately.

  8. dL

    I find it curious that ever since dL became an admin here there’s been an increase in troll activity.

    I’m a moderator, not an admin. It’s not up to me what gets published or who gets downgraded. What I am responsible for is getting rid of the white supremacist impersonation spam.

  9. Jill Pyeatt

    I’d be happy to be a part of IPR again if it was anything but Andy saying the same thing about immigrants over and over again. Seriously. I miss being here.

  10. Andy

    “Jill Pyeatt
    July 24, 2018 at 16:32
    I’d be happy to be a part of IPR again if it was anything but Andy saying the same thing about immigrants over and over again. Seriously. I miss being here.”

    Jill, there are lots of posts here on IPR, from a variety of posters, on a variety of topics. Out of all of the posts here, what percent are me talking about immigration? I’d wager that it is a small percentage out of the total number of things posted here.

    Also, for some of these posts, I am responding to comments made about immigration by other posters, or I am responding to an article somebody posted about immigration.

    Why is it that you have no problem when say dL or Paul or LibertyDave posts a comment about immigration? Do you have a confirmation bias, as in you only want to see comments that agree with the narrative to which you subscribe on a subject? What about debate?

    Lots of posters here have their favorite “hobby horse” issue(s) they bring up over and over. What about Carol Moore constantly going on an on about abortion? What about Robert Capozzi going on and on about how 88 20 somethings plus John Hospers supposedly “booby trapping” the LP by including a statement of principles that alludes to anarchy, which can’t be changed unless 7/8 of the delegates at a national convention vote to change it? What about Anthony Dlugos going on and on about how the LP should run pragmatic (from his point of view) candidates who have “Shiny Badge” credentials, even if this means that the LP should run candidates from the major parties who most of us here would not consider to be very libertarian, if they are libertarian at all?

    I am far from the only poster here to bring up, or respond to someone else bringing up, an issue, multiple times. It is also not like I’m some kind of “Johnny One Note” who only talks about one issue. I have spoken about many issues over the years, and will continue to do so.

    Immigration is an important issue, and it is something that has been in the news a lot lately. It is my contention that a lot of libertarians, not all fortunately, have an unrealistic, and I would even say, anti-libertarian view on this issue, because I don’t think that calling for “open borders” and unrestricted mass immigration into a democratic welfare state with forced association laws and lots of taxpayer funded property/infrastructure is a sound strategy for advancing the cause of liberty, nor do I believe that this is consistent with property norms. The result of the current mass immigration, which has been going on for the last several decades, is that it has brought large numbers of people to the country who a) consume welfare and other taxpayer funded services at a rate that is higher than that of most of the existing population (and I include their offspring in the statistics, which makes it even worse), b) vote in super-majority numbers to increase the welfare state and to enact more gun control laws, and c) commit crimes at a rate that is higher than that of most of the existing population. Not all immigrants, or immigrant groups, are doing these things, but a disturbing percentage of them are.

    This is an issue that could ultimately end up destroying any prospects for liberty in this country. Why? Because the amount of liberty that you have has a direct correlation to the ideology of the people whom you live around, and since we live in a country with over 325 million people, and since we have a system of government, which has elections, even if a person happens to be in an area that has not been directly impacted by immigration, that person still has to live under laws that were passed by representatives in areas that were heavily impacted by immigration.

    Some libertarians may say, “Well I want the government to collapse. Then we can have anarchy, dude. So if the immigrants help the government collapse, that’s a good thing.” My response to this is that the aftermath of that collapse may not be a good thing if you are surrounded by people who are hostile to liberty, as it could lead to chaos (not peaceful a peaceful anarchist libertopia), and this chaos could be followed by a government that is more tyrannical than what we have now.

    If everyone coming to the USA was a freedom loving, hard working libertarian, I suppose that there would not be much of a problem, if there was a problem at all, but this is far from being reality.

    Once again, to clarify my position, I never said that there should be no immigration. I fully agree with the libertarian anarcho-capitalist ideal of a private property society, that has immigration regulated by private property owners, but given that we live in a society with a state, my interim position is that while the state exists, its immigration policy should not invite or entice to come here people who are Marxists or theorcrats or welfare seekers or criminal thugs or people with communicable diseases. If these people sneak in anyway, they should not be rewarded with welfare benefits or other government services (outside of maybe emergency healthcare, followed by deportation), nor should they be rewarded with American citizenship (the the current interpretation of Birthright Citizenship needs to be ended, as in it should not apply to people whose parents are not citizens). If this were done, it would go a long way toward fixing the problem, and I doubt that it would be necessary for the government to expend lots of resources into physically removing these people from the country, although I do think that physical removal ought to be prioritized in some cases that are particularly egregious (see the stories I posted about the Somalian welfare scammers in Minnesota, or the Somalian welfare recipients in Minnesota who have defacto taken over a public park and engaged in multiple acts of violence, such as raping a girl, and beating a man to death with sticks and laughing about it).

    Libertarians are not in a position to do much of anything about immigration or a lot of other issues, since the LP does not even have one person elected to Congress, but even so, I do not think that it is wise for libertarians to align themselves with with far left Marxists and New World Order globalists, both of whom are aligned in support for “open borders” and mass immigration. These Marxists and globalists are engaged in a liberal plot to destroy what’s left of freedom, and they are using mass statist migration as a weapon to accomplish their goal.

    The state being an immoral institution does not invalidate every function or action of the state. The state has a monopoly on fire fighting, so if the state puts out a fire, that’s a good thing. The state has a monopoly on law enforcement, so if the state arrests a prosecutes a murderer or a rapist or a thief, that’s a good thing. The state has a monopoly on roads,. so if the state fixes a pothole or repairs a bridge, that’s a good thing.

    There would still be a demand to regulate migration even if we lived in a private property anarcho-capitalist society, it is just that in our present society, the state monopolizes this function.

    I agree that in an ideal world, the state should not exist, and everything should be handled in a voluntary manner, but we have to operate within the world as it is, even while we are trying to change it.

  11. Andy

    “or the Somalian welfare recipients in Minnesota who have defacto taken over a public park and engaged in multiple acts of violence, such as raping a girl, and beating a man to death with sticks and laughing about it).”

    This incident actually happened in Lewiston, Maine.

    “These Marxists and globalists are engaged in a liberal plot to destroy what’s left of freedom,”

    Should read, “These Marxists and globalists are engaged in a literal plot to destroy what’s left of freedom…”

  12. Paul

    Andy, if that person were white, conservative (or “libertarian”) and from Vermont, I wonder if you would care.

    My guess is no, which makes me wonder why.

  13. Starchild

    In my campaigns for public office, I’ve repeatedly talked about how San Francisco should be more like Black Rock City (home of Burning Man) – i.e. with less government and more freedom to create and express.

    As a Libertarian National Committee representative, I’ve also argued for giving LP conventions more of the creative, outdoorsy, DIY, flavor of the festival, which had 70,000 attendees last year (see https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4379593/burning-man-2017-festival-nevada-dust-storm-black-rock-desert/ ).

    If the Libertarian Party wants to see more people attend its gatherings, it would be a smart move. This year’s LP national convention had about 1/50th as many attendees as the most recent incarnation of the desert festival.

    A few statistics from last year’s Black Rock City census (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hbZtR38TiEqDgA28STIFwS5Ae1r4WrYP/view) which Libertarians may find of interest (percentages rounded to nearest whole number):

    • In response to the question, “After Going to BRC, Were You Inspired to do More Volunteering in General?”, over half of respondents said “yes”; another 30% said “maybe”.

    • In response to the question, “After Going to BRC, Were You Inspired to Learn or Practice Any of the Following Skills?” (participants selected all options that applied), most participants listed at least one skill from the following list which they were inspired to learn or practice:

    -Self-Awareness/Emotional Skills – 58%
    -Art Creation – 56%
    -Leadership/Interpersonal Skills – 39%
    -Mediation Skills – 27%
    -Project Management – 27%
    -Carpentry/Metalwork – 26%
    -Performance Art – 25%
    -Construction/Heavy Machinery – 16%
    -Graphic Design – 10%
    -Other – 3%

    In many cases, these are clearly skills which are or would be helpful to Libertarians. Somewhat in reflection of this, 58% of census respondents evaluated usefulness of skills learned and/or practiced after going to Burning Man (for participants who felt inspired to learn or practice skills) as “Yes, Very Useful in the Default World” (30% said “Yes, Somewhat Useful”, 11% said “No, but They May at Some Point”, and less than 1% said “No, Not at All Useful Outside Black Rock City”).

    The median amount respondents spent to go to Burning Man in 2017, excluding the cost of tickets, which typically run several hundred dollars, but including travel, food, supplies, etc., was $1500.

    In response to the question, “How Much Did You Enjoy Your Experience This Year in Black Rock City?”, 52% said “Extremely”, and another 36% said “A Lot”, with only 10% saying “Somewhat”, 2% saying “A Bit”, and less than 1% saying “Not at All”.

    76% of respondents said they intended to come back to Black Rock City in the future.

    Last but not least, 7.3% of Burning Man attendees responding to the question, “Generally, I Consider Myself to be Primarily ______________” said they identified as “Libertarian” and another 2.3% of respondents identified as “Anarchist” (the remaining choices were “Liberal”, “Progressive”, “Non-Political”, “Green”, “Conservative, and “Other”).

    Fun fact: The Burning Man census report mentions at least one LP member by name – Joseph Buchman (Utah LP state chair and poster of this article)!

  14. Anthony Dlugos

    “In my campaigns for public office, I’ve repeatedly talked about how San Francisco should be more like Black Rock City (home of Burning Man) – i.e. with less government and more freedom to create and express.

    As a Libertarian National Committee representative, I’ve also argued for giving LP conventions more of the creative, outdoorsy, DIY, flavor of the festival, which had 70,000 attendees last year This year’s LP national convention had about 1/50th as many attendees as the most recent incarnation of the desert festival.”

    A political party is not in any way analogous to a festival like Burning Man. Sheer numbers at a Libertarian convention that has a Burning Man “flavor” would be no more effective at reducing government and increasing individual liberty than sheer numbers and an “outdoorsy” attitude and a publicly traded corporation’s shareholder meeting would be at focusing the company on it’s goals.

    To reduce government and increase the scope of individual liberty, a political party needs a single-minded focus on recruiting qualified candidates, supporting such candidates in a myriad of ways, getting them elected, and allowing them to put pen to paper to write the legislation that they then must shepherd through the legislative process, legislation that would have the effect of increasing individual liberty so that OTHER PEOPLE are allowed the freedom to create the sorts of voluntary organizations they want to be a part of.

    Its okay if you want to be a part of an organization that demonstrates “self-reliance, and self-expression, as well as community cooperation, civic responsibility, gifting…” (per Wikipedia on Burning Man). There is value in that. But why would you form or be part of a political party to do that? Burning Man isn’t a political party, doesn’t spend money on ballot access, nominations for elective office, candidate support, etc. Burning Man works because it focuses on what its good at. It knows what it is.

    A political party that wants to be a DIY festival will not be good at politics or festivals.

  15. dL

    Also, remember last summer dirtyLeftist (dL) took down some news articles I posted in an Open Comments thread

    I haven’t deleted any of your verified comments. Actually, I spend most of my moderation time cleaning up after your sorry ass w/ regard to fake Andy comments. Now, There have been a few real-time bouts in the past deleting white supremacist spam that I was pretty sure was coming from you. You, or should I say, **cough**Nathan**cough**, snowflake whined about it here:

    https://iprx.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/open-thread-for-deleted-ipr-comments/

    RE: dirtyLeftist. In the 4-chan vernacular, “dirty” or “cuck” apparently refers to someone who has managed the impossible task of having consensual sex with someone other than one’s own right hand, an accomplishment that in all likelihood has hitherto eluded you.

  16. robert capozzi

    Never been to either, but couldn’t something like PorcFest be like Burning Man?

  17. Seebeck

    Here’s the censored version of the above vid for those of you afraid of tiddie:

  18. Austin

    Haven’t visited the site in years, but seriously, what is up with all the in fighting?

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