Class Warfare Heats Up at Burning Man

Financial markets were burning up Friday, as the Dow Industrials closed off some 394 points (-2.1%) to end the holiday-shortened trading week.

The selling in stocks was accompanied by a sell-off in the bond market. Treasury yields spiked to 1.67% in the 10-year note, the highest level since before the June Brexit vote by the UK.

We’ll have to see whether today’s pullback in both stocks and bonds is a harbinger of things to come. If it is, then investors will likely need to play defense, as it means neither major asset class is going to deliver you any alpha.

Meanwhile, while stocks and bonds were burning down today, there’s another kind of burn being felt in society that deserves a deeper look.

That burn was seen last week at what has become a social gathering of the hip, eccentric and "free spirits" of the day … the annual Burning Man festival.

In case you don’t know, the Burning Man festival actually started some 30 years ago in San Francisco. There, a group of like-minded revelers got together to unplug, and to celebrate alternative cultures, artistic expression, free thinking and other sorts of Woodstock-like expression.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the festival moved to the Nevada desert. And in recent years, the event has become a worldwide phenomenon — attracting thousands of people from all around the globe, and from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds.

I even have a colleague who told me he was invited to the Burning Man festival a few years ago, but he decided not to attend. He also told me that he regretted his decision, as the invitation included a ride with Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk on his private jet!

In fact, it’s the likes of billionaires such as Elon Musk, as well as many other wealthy patrons, who have embraced the weeklong bohemian/communal culture of art and self-expression that now has given rise to instances of class warfare.

Yes, jealously and envy of the "top 1%" isn’t just restricted to the biggest fans of Democratic Socialism. It also was alive and well this year at Burning Man.

According to a report in Business Insider, one of Burning Man’s so-called "luxury camps" was ransacked by vandals:

The White Ocean camp hosts dozens of free techno-music concerts at its stage on the outskirts of the playa, while also providing lodging and food for its star-studded lineup of DJs.

Sometime during or after another camp’s famous "white party," where ravers dress in all white, vandals entered the camp. They allegedly pulled and cut electric lines, causing food to spoil, stole personal belongings, glued trailer doors shut, and flooded the camp with 200 gallons of potable water …

To give you a bit of background here, White Ocean is the co-creation of Timur Sardarov, son of Russian billionaire and oil magnate Rashid Sardarov.

In the past, this luxury camp has been criticized for being too haughty, and for not being in the "spirit" of the Burning Man festival.

In other words, White Ocean is just too elitist for the Burning Man purists.

And when some people perceive your group as too elitist, they think that gives them the right to vandalize your property and/or take some of that property away in the name of the collective.

Even White Ocean said as much, as they wrote on their Facebook (FB) page that after notifying Burning Man organizers of the incident, they were actually told,

"It makes sense that you have been sabotaged, as you are a closed camp and not welcoming."


Now, while you or I probably won’t be interested in attending a Burning Man festival anytime soon, the big issue here is that the pernicious and downright dangerous consequences of class warfare and a hatred of those perceived to be "better off" do represent a threat to everyone.

The reason why is that when those who have less than you feel as though they have a claim on your life … and/or that they can vandalize and otherwise harass you in the name of "elitism" … we are all under threat of vandalism and harassment.

So, if you ever wondered what the result of the spiraling hatred in our society of "millionaires and billionaires" results in, you can see it alive and well in cut electric lines, stolen personal belongings and glued-shut trailer doors.

If we want to keep ourselves safe, and free from the class-warfare mob, then it starts by rejecting the concepts at the root of the issue — concepts such as group claims on individual success, and a duty to sacrifice in the name of collective.


I want to hear from you. If you’d like to weigh in on this issue, or on any of the issues we cover here in the Afternoon Edition, just let me know by leaving me a comment on our website or by sending me an e-mail.


Markets dropped like a stone at the opening bell after Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren outlined the risks of "lower for longer" interest rates. He zeroed in on how they could be shortening the U.S. economic recovery, and noted that we could see the economy "overheat" without a "gradual tightening."

This sparked the third day of losses for both the Industrials and the S&P 500, and culminated not only in a down week, but also the third-worst week for the S&P this year. The major U.S. indexes lost upward of 2% apiece today. Elsewhere in the news …

  • Millions of dollars is nice, but not everything. A new Ameriprise Financial survey of 432 millionaire retirees reveals that they cherish five things more than their millionaire status: retiring, paying off their mortgage, being able to afford a big purchase like a car, paying for a child’s education, and notching a certain level of annual income.
  • The British are coming for MasterCard (MA). A $19 billion lawsuit alleges that the company charged exorbitant fees to retailers, creating in turn an "invisible tax" of higher prices for consumers to pay for goods at these stores. The case is targeting the 16-year period between 1992 and 2008. MA shares slid 1.8% today, less than the broader U.S. markets.
  • Rising rig counts weighed on WTI crude today. Black gold slid 3.6% as the number of active oil and gas rigs continued to not decline for the 11th-straight week.

Good luck and happy investing,

Brad Hoppmann


Uncommon Wisdom Daily

Your thoughts on “Class Warfare Heats Up at Burning Man”

  1. You are so right!!!!! We experience this all over, when anyone has this mindset, and even people that you think are good people have this mindset, in some small way, it’s human nature to be self concerned, and children have to be taught to understand what is mine is mine and yours is yours and no-one has the right to it. All charity has been flipped on its head because of ENVY….and that is in the Commandments of God and it has to be trained out of all humans from birth…….people that believe children are born innocent ….and are taught to sin by example or by their environment are very mistaken….some stuff may be taught by example ..but the basic ones are not…..Thou shall not steal….the sad thing is the truth is so twisted even by well meaning people of all backgrounds and all categories of wealth…….and then you have the element of crime on top of that..

  2. I agree that private property should not be tampered with. However, the super rich have grown richer by owning the politicians and have set the economic rules in their favor. When they ship factories to China and then have those products brought back duty-free then it is no wonder why people are against the super rich. They have brought this on themselves. Crony capitalism is not real capitalism so the super rich can’t claim that this is simply a socialist-capitalist conflict.

  3. Agree 100%. Individual sovereignty and individual liberty is at the heart of what makes a civil society possible. Golden Rule is another way to say the same thing. Your individual liberty to express yourself using words and deeds stops one inch from the tip of my nose. That is to say, you are free to say and do what you want within legal boundaries so long as your words and deeds avoid invading anyone else’s sphere of individual liberty. What we see demonstrated here is an unraveling of our civil society so to the degree that we can stop the unraveling we can go on being civil but to the degree that we fail we can expect to be touched personally, either sooner or later, by this upside down thinking and the societal chaos such thinking always breeds.

  4. It is a serious mistake to ignore the role of self-hatred in Leftist ideology.

    What’s troubling about these successful bastards from Russia, is not that they are rich.

    What’s troubling is they don’t know how to look pissed off, at having had to do the work it took, to get rich.

    No self-respecting Leftist ever admits to feeling thankful that he just felt something pleasing. His duty as a Leftist, is to get angry and destructive and violent. And the Universe has the duty to kowtow to his anger and give him whatever he damned well wants. The old-timey Commie artists like Sergei Eisenstein, ended up depicting proletarians as cheerful, appreciative, helpful people. Hatred was directed against God and the Church…not at objective reality. Today’s New Left rejects the notion of thankfulness and appreciation, in favor of nihilism.

    Any problem that cannot be fixed by throwing up a picket line and doing a lot of screaming, is a problem the New Left refuses to acknowledge is real. In the century-and-a-quarter that separates our time from that of Turgenev, the behavior Turgenev called Nihiism has spread.

    Turgenev’s characters in his novel, Fathers and Sons, dissected frogs because they were bored. They learned nothing and cared about less. They envied emptiness. In nothingness, they could smugly criticize everyone else.

    The Burning Man event creates nothingness out of a mass effort. It’s completely devoid of any purpose whatsoever. Just like the Tesla Motors company.

  5. What really bothers me is that we have one political party that constantly harps on the “one percent” as the evil ones. Having a nice home and driving a twenty year old classic sports car probably makes you look like a one-per-center to most of the population. Yup, that’s me, 45 years of dedication to my employers and living within my means. Sad that when I take the car of my dreams out for a spin I have to worry about where I park. Truth is I always get “thumbs up” but you never know when that one idiot will make the wrong assumption.

  6. Nice description of the event.
    In my view the problem lies with the people, I see too many on a mission who seemingly never learned to live and let live. Don’t like it? Don’t go. I don’t care what social group goes there to have fun, I am happy for them that they can have this fun.
    If one feels underprivileged there are other ways to do something about it than violence and destruction. That only shows how primitive these actors are. Btw, the same goes for “righteous” drivers, gun owners, bullies, terrorists, and other idiots. They don’t accomplish anything positive which is what separates humanistic humans from predators, no matter how many legs the latter have.

  7. The Burning Man.
    There has always been jealousy and there will always be jealousy. It goes back to the very first recorded history. Today with the speed at which we live with technology changes, market changes and social changes etc. people get lost in their own identity in this fast pace. The important thing is to remember a quote from the pop artist, Jackson Brown, ” Life is tough and it is tough for everyone. The only way through it, is through it”. Now doesn’t that make everyone feel better? Say yes, damn you!…Steven Hougland

  8. Where do we draw the line? Why is it acceptable to rob and vandalize billionaires? Is it acceptable to do this to millionaires? How about the people who make a few thousand more than me? The average person living in Bangladesh has much less than me, an average person living in the US. Does that give them the right to rob and vandalize me? No! It’s unacceptable! This kind of thinking has been promoted the last few years by many of those in and seeking office from city to president. For the Burning Man organizers to blow off these actions off is wrong!

  9. Kind of disheartening to see some struggle for food & shelter and others prospering off the backs of those struggling. Count your blessings & help your brothers & sisters.

    I have a father who helped my sister and her husband purchase a $300,000 house, but when I had a surgery and now am struggling with hospital bills there is no help to be found.

  10. Concerning the Ameriprise Financial survey, everything those millionaires cherish requires being wealthy enough to afford those accomplishments. So it comes back around to the fact that having a pile of money must be the most important thing to them. There are many unfortunates who sadly cannot come close to achieving any of those accomplishments. Hard work used to cut it. Today unless you are in finance, law, medicine, or are a tech genius, the odds of getting to millionaire status in this country are drastically stacked against you. Although you may get lucky but shouldn’t hold your breath because you may turn blue.

  11. I immigrated here from the land of the Canucleheads a few years back because the Canadian commie progressive liberals had watched too much American mass media and came to believe that that, was a better way. After Obama this same media has promoted progressive liberalism like it was a religion. Collectivism, food stamps, welfare, free university, free medical and when the whole system fails the masses with pitchforks will attack the mass media liars and producers with much vigor. Perhaps the American masses will wake up and vote for a conservative who knows what is really going on and cut the cable or turn off the tube.

  12. Hi Brad, the economic pattern we’re on is unsustainable. It is probably unwise for the rich to have all the money. I think that, on class warfare, we ain’t seen nothing yet. And if we have recession and bear market? Look out below. Hope I am wrong.

  13. Facts can lead to wrong conclusions when viewed through the lens of personal bias. Most Burning Man attendees are members of the former middle class and their offspring. Given cost of entry ($500-$900 per person), transportation, housing & provisions and a week of lost wages while attending: “have nots” is inaccurate, possibly misleading, terminology.

    These events might be better described as “a spontaneous protest against corporate collusion & political corruption, conducted by recently ripped off members of America’s decimated middle class.”

  14. “If we want to keep ourselves safe, and free from the class-warfare mob, then it starts by rejecting the concepts at the root of the issue — concepts such as group claims on individual success, and a duty to sacrifice in the name of collective.”

    I’m afraid you’re missing some very fundamental aspects of human behavior:
    1. For those to whom much has been given, much is expected in return. So don’t set up luxury camps in the face of many who are scraping by, and then express shock when some are angry at your unwillingness to share a bit.
    2. Most people respect success and expect the successful to have more than they do; that situation encourages people to strive for success. What they don’t expect is for the company CEO to earn over 1900 times the average salary for everybody else, as is the case for Charter Communications.
    3. As the wealth gap grows exponentially, the overwhelming majority will become more and more resentful. Unless you’re a super-philanthropist like Zuckerberg or Gates, better start spending millions on security.

  15. Maybe this incident will wake up these wealthy leftists. I believe there is a saying that a conservative is a liberal that has been mugged. The Bolshevik vandals need to not only be outed, they need to be opposed and eliminated. By any means necessary. Remember the Second Amendment and the Declaration of Independence.

  16. “If we want to keep ourselves safe, and free from the class-warfare mob, then it starts by rejecting the concepts at the root of the issue — concepts such as group claims on individual success, and a duty to sacrifice in the name of collective.”

    I always thought my dad joined the Marines in 1942, fought in Iwo Jima and Guam, out of his “duty to sacrifice in the name of the collective.”

  17. Aw, those poor millionaires! They should make a commercial with sad millionaires to solicit donations. Can someone check with Sarah McLachlan and see if she’ll let us use one of her songs?

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