Radical Inclusion

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The Radical Inclusion Pictogram by James Wickham

Radical Inclusion is one of the original 10 Principles of Burning Man. The Ten Principles were originally written by Larry Harvey in 2004 as a guide to the organisation of Burning Man, and later adopted as a model of thinking and behaviour for participants to follow at the event, and in their lives generally.


Definition

"Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community."

This is a 'gatekeeper' principle. 'Participation' which might be deemed to be about the 'same thing' applies more to involvement WITHIN the community. Radical Inclusion is about JOINING the community. Radical Inclusion recognizes the possibility that as the outside community changes, or the people becoming involved with a Burn changes, then the Burn may change. The Burn is open to ideas, mores and cultures as well as people (sees them as indivisible).

Benjamin Wachs makes the point that Radical Inclusion in not simply 'Inclusion'. 'Radical Inclusion', he suggests, isn't inviting your friends, or your work colleagues, or someone you admire or want something from to join you. All of that is 'easy', it is self gratification and indulgence, and by no means 'radical'. Radical is opening yourself, or your camp or your event to someone you wouldn't normally meet or include. You might not like them, you are not required to like them, but you will learn something from them - you will learn something about yourself from your reaction to them.

As a Burning 'Principle' and its relation to other Burning Principles

Radical Inclusion is one of the core burn principles. This must be included in any Burn in order for it to be officially associated in the Burning Man community. Some Burns have modified or adapted the words, including:

  • Blazing Swan Anyone may be a part of Blazing Swan. We welcome and respect the stranger. No pre-requisites exist for participation in our community. Every person in our community is a valued member.
  • AfrikaBurn Anyone may be a part of AfrikaBurn. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community. This means that anyone can partake.

It is important to understand that all principles apply equally and concurrently. The principles were designed to all work, and to all work together. No principle can be used to justify an act of commission or omission that violates any other principle. Principles do not 'conflict' with each other or 'contradict' each other because no principle is intended to be considered or applied in isolation from all the remaining principles. No principle takes away from any other principle. The principles are additive.

Neither the Principles or the Burning Man community hove ever provided any sure guidance about what how to find the balance between different principles, or in their application and conflict with 'norms of society. A useful (but not universally useful) tool in such circumstances is to apply the party-goers 'general ethical guidance', "Don't be the dick."

Interactions between this principle and real world circumstances in the context of Burns

  • The requirement to purchase a ticket appears to contradict the '..No prerequisites exist for participation in our community." However, it can be argued that the expression of the principles at an Event site is not 'the community', but simply an aspect of the community. The community exists outside of any annual event or any one location.
  • Minors are not permitted unless accompanied by an adult or Guardian. The definition of minor might vary between Burns in different countries...
  • There is no bars in respect of race, religion, gender identification. However in practice the ethnic mix of Burning Man in predominately European descent? It may behoove event organizers to survey the participants to understand whether the 'mix' attending matches that of the community generally, as a first step to understanding if there is a dissonance and contemplating what might be done about that - if anything.
  • Remote Burns might include unintended barriers to participation by people with disabilities.

Activating Radical Inclusion

A Blaze Principle is not intended as a description of 'what is', but rather a guide to taking active steps - and not just within the Burn community. Examples of activating radical inclusion include:

  • 'reduced price tickets programs. to encourage and diversify inclusion
  • 'stranger welcome' programs. to encourage out of town,state,country visitors to attend Burns and engage with local community
  • 'Locals programs' to encourage locals where the burn occurs to join with the Burn community
  • 'Disabled support programs'.
  • 'Ride share programs' To facilitate attendance
  • 'Diversified Burner Events' to facilitate attendance
  • 'Community identification' to allow identification and reaching out to the burn communitee - including inter-burn connectivity and communication.
  • Some Burns might have lists of persons or camps which are excluded no the basis of previous on-playa 'violations'.

This principle in wider historic and philosophical contexts

The Ten Principles of Burning Man are in class known as 'Moral Systems' All attempts at creating a universal 'Moral System' have failed, and they have at times incorporated elements that we would reject, and have been championed and fought over at the expense of lives and nations.

Danny Usery makes the point that although sets of moral principles ideally should not contain inherent contradictions, in practice they often do. He suggests that in resolving those conflicts - which is necessary in order to follow those moral principles in 'real life', a person should apply a set of theory rules (or ethical principles) which will guide you in your application of those moral principles. He acknowledges the existence of multiple examples of ethical principles (such as Utilitarian or Kantian) and further acknowledges that the a person attempting to choose amongst these various ethical principles might seek further guidance, using some criteria to do so, and some ethical principles to understand which criteria to use, and so on ad infinitum.

The Burning Man Principles and Community provide no specific guidance on what 'ethical principles' should guide a Burners (or a Burn Organizer's) view towards and application of the Ten Principles. The 'purist' might hold that Burns should not charge money, and in fact should not be organized by anyone - but in fact organized by everyone. This viewpoint finds its nearest expression in the Rainbow Gathering movement. Others would hold that the Burn is an opportunity to showcase 'ideals', but the showcase has to exist in the 'real world' and comply with the economic and legal constraints of the real world as it stands now while we work to bring the 'real world' into line with our 'showcased world'. Some will hold that 'the pure is the enemy of the good', and others will say that 'If you want to do anything, do it now, without compromise or concession, because you have only one life. Gao Xingjian

Expressions and Artwork

On and off-playa installations have been created to express this principle. Perth graphic designer James Wickham created a set of pictographs in 2015 to illustrate the 10 Principles, and these have been widely praised and adopted.

See Also

References