Burners ready to govern?

New Yorker magazine: “As 2013 wound to a close and dismal year-end assessments poured in on the performance of the Obama Administration—the N.S.A. surveillance scandal, the botched Obamacare rollout—the president was looking for idea men. His move was to fly in a cadre of brainy Silicon Valley types. But he might have also dropped by Harlem, where a fund-raiser for the Burning Man Project, the nonprofit spinoff of the annual arts festival and bacchanal in the Nevada desert, had taken on a chin-stroking air. “You know what I'm really interested in?” Larry Harvey, the festival's founder, asked, in his remarks onstage. ’Governance.'

“Burning Man is no Model U.N., but as a congregation of self-appointed outliers in silly hats, it was a forerunner of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. … [It has an] airport, law enforcement, emergency services, and electrical grid. … Burners [claim they] have helped revitalize downtown Las Vegas and met with members of the Australian government. We're planning for a hundred years,” Harvey told the crowd. “If we can govern the way we want, then what we've all experienced”—at Burning Man—“will be a very common experience. But what wisdom could our government take from Burning Man right now? … When it came to Obamacare, the writer Julia Allison offered a bit of advice: ‘If people took self-reliance [a Burning Man principle] as a central tenet of health, we'd have people taking really good care of themselves. Since I've been to Burning Man, I haven't gotten sick.' …

“Burning Man doesn't have all the answers when it comes to social organization. The festival is plagued by the same problems that plague American society.”