As gripe continues over whether or not Occupy Wall Street is over, or failed, a video surfaces from the recent Burning Man 2012 gathering in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, which re-ignites the OWS revolutionary spirit in even the most cynical of us all.
The Burn Wall Street project is the brainchild of Otto Von Danger, dozens of Occupiers, as well as individuals from the Tea Party movement, who joined together despite differences to symbolize the 100%. Von Danger insists that change cannot happen with either the 1% or the 99% acting alone. He states on his website, “We need 100% of Americans to step up to the challenge to fix this…so BWS is asking these disparate groups to put down their Bibles and their Communist Manifestos in order to unite, share ideas and come up with actual solutions from a rational perspective.”
For many, Burning Man is an annual pilgrimage, a ritualistic gathering in itself which beckons thousands of artists, mystics, anarchists, hippies, and of course many silicon -valley millionaires, to the barren and inhospitable Black Rock Desert near Gerlach, Nevada. Here, out of sheer nothingness, they co-create a temporary autonomous community – a new city (Black Rock City) based on revolutionary values: radical self-expression, radical self-reliance, decommodification, radical inclusion, participation, gifting and civic responsibility.
The Burn Wall Street project rekindled the anarchistic roots of Burning Man, which is sometimes hard to perceive amidst the hedonism – but it is “Burning-Man” after all, that is, the namesake ritual of the week long gathering is the tremendous spectacle of “burning down the man” on Friday night. This year, the largest structural burn in the 26-year history of Burning Man occurred as they burned a 72ft high simulacrum of Wall Street, complete with “Goldman Sucks”, “Bank of Un-America”, a fake New York Stock Exchange, and Chaos Manhattan (Chase).
Remember the impact of seeing that footage, again and again, of the two towers burning to ash on September 11th, 2001 – and how that scarring imagery has molded and impacted the American Psyche? With just the phrase “ September 11th”, we feel the shock, trauma, and rage of total geopolitical mayhem. The greatest thing Occupy could achieve is to forever scar the words “Wall Street” with a similarly visceral tenor of corruption and depraved greed. As Wall Street burns down in Black Rock Desert amidst glorious revelry, we can watch and share in the primordial satisfaction gained from setting aflame a symbol of corporate tyranny and oppression. In order to reclaim our future, isn’t symbolically burning down “Wall Street” exactly what we need to do?