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Haight Ashbury II?: Burning Man Arts Festival and the GOP (“Turn on, Tune in, Burn up!”)

COMMENT: Liv­ing in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, one becomes famil­iar with the back wash of the so-called “counter cul­ture” of the 1960’s. The resid­ua are every­where, includ­ing more than a few peo­ple who have gone absolute­ly off the deep end, either from drugs or too much intel­lec­tu­al and cul­tur­al rel­a­tivism.

It is also impos­si­ble to live in the Bay Area  and not be aware of the Burn­ing Man Arts Fes­ti­val [1]. When it first took off, we thought it was some sort of weird-ass Nazi/Occultist rite, with peo­ple camp­ing out in the desert, tak­ing lots of drugs and observ­ing a giant form of a man being burned in effi­gy.

One could not exag­ger­ate the amount of heavy-duty drug tak­ing that takes place there. It is drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs–LSD, Ecsta­sy and God knows what else.

After it became the phe­nom­e­non that it has become, we con­clud­ed that it was an intel­li­gence oper­a­tion of some kind, prob­a­bly like the LSD/drug cul­ture of 1960’s. (For more on this sub­ject, check out AFA #28 [2], the descrip­tion for which fol­lows the arti­cle excerpt.)

Tak­ing place on gov­ern­ment land, way out in the desert, it struck us as an ide­al place to exper­i­ment on peo­ple. 

Now comes a sto­ry from The Wash­ing­ton Post [3] inform­ing us that the event epit­o­mizes “main­stream” GOP val­ues and that peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with the event are lob­by­ing Con­gress.

In this con­text, we also note that part of the back wash from the ’60’s mess is a very real form of counter-cul­ture fas­cism, described at length in FTR #437 [4].

This does indeed sound like “Haight Ash­bury II.”

God help us for say­ing this, but at this dis­tance in time, we’ve come to believe that any­body dumb enough to pay $300.00 to go hang out in a salt desert and take lots of drugs with a bunch of hip­pies deserves to be used as a human guinea pig.

Far out.

The main-street Repub­li­can val­ues of ... Burn­ing Man?” by Suzy Khimm; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 05/03/2012. [5]

EXCERPT: There’s not a cor­po­rate logo in sight at the coun­ter­cul­tur­al arts fes­ti­val, and noth­ing is for sale but ice and cof­fee. But at its core, Har­vey believes that Burn­ing Man hews close­ly to the true spir­it of a free-enter­prise democ­ra­cy: Inge­nu­ity is cel­e­brat­ed, auton­o­my is affirmed, and self-reliance is expect­ed. “If you’re talk­ing about old-fash­ioned, Main Street Repub­li­can­ism, we could be the poster child,” says Har­vey, who has­tens to add that the fes­ti­val is non-ide­o­log­i­cal — and doesn’t antic­i­pate being in GOP cam­paign ads any­time soon.

For more than two decades, the fes­ti­val has fund­ed itself entire­ly through dona­tions and tick­et sales — which now go up to $300 a pop — and it’s almost nev­er gone in the red. And on the dry, bar­ren plains of the Neva­da desert where Burn­ing Man mate­ri­al­izes for a week each sum­mer, you’re judged by what you do — your art, cos­tumes and par­tic­i­pa­tion in a com­mu­ni­ty that expects every­one to con­tribute in some form and frowns upon those who’ve come sim­ply to gawk or mooch off oth­ers.

That’s part of the mes­sage that Har­vey and his col­leagues have brought to Wash­ing­ton this week, in his meet­ings with con­gres­sion­al staffers and the Inte­ri­or Depart­ment to dis­cuss the future of Burn­ing Man. In fact, the fes­ti­val is already a known quan­ti­ty on the Hill: Har­vey and his col­leagues have been com­ing to Wash­ing­ton for years to explain the fes­ti­val to pol­i­cy­mak­ers, in least part because Burn­ing Man takes place on pub­lic land that’s man­aged by the Inte­ri­or Depart­ment. . . .

AFA #28: The CIA and LSD

Begin­ning with the CIA’s research into LSD as part of its inves­ti­ga­tion of mind con­trol tech­niques, this broad­cast high­lights the pro­found role of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty in the dis­sem­i­na­tion of hal­lu­cino­gens and the devel­op­ment of the recre­ation­al cul­ture attached to their use.

The CIA and mil­i­tary exper­i­ment­ed with the drug (LSD) in a vari­ety of clin­i­cal and social envi­ron­ments. In addi­tion to pro­duc­ing psy­chot­ic and (in some cas­es) lethal results, this exper­i­men­ta­tion also served to infil­trate the drug into intel­lec­tu­al and pop­u­lar cul­ture. Writ­ers Aldous Hux­ley, Ken Kesey and Allen Gins­berg were intro­duced to the drug (direct­ly or indi­rect­ly) through the nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­men­t’s LSD exper­i­men­ta­tion pro­grams.

Tim­o­thy Leary’s ear­ly research into LSD was sub­si­dized, to some extent, by the CIA. Lat­er, Leary’s LSD pros­e­ly­ti­za­tion was great­ly aid­ed by William Mel­lon Hitch­cock, a mem­ber of the pow­er­ful Mel­lon fam­i­ly. The financ­ing of the Mel­lon-Leary col­lab­o­ra­tion was effect­ed through the Cas­tle Bank, a Caribbean oper­a­tion that was deeply involved in the laun­der­ing of CIA drug mon­ey.

After mov­ing to the West Coast, Leary hooked up with a group of ex-surfers, the Broth­er­hood of Eter­nal Love. This group became the largest LSD syn­the­siz­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing orga­ni­za­tion in the world. Their “chief chemist” was a curi­ous indi­vid­ual named Ronald Hadley Stark. An enig­mat­ic, mul­ti-lin­gual and well-trav­eled indi­vid­ual, Stark worked for the CIA, and appears to have been with the agency when he was mak­ing the Broth­er­hood’s acid. The qual­i­ty of his prod­uct pro­ject­ed the Broth­er­hood of Eter­nal Love into its lead­er­ship role in the LSD trade. Stark also oper­at­ed in con­junc­tion with the Ital­ian intelligence/fascist milieu described in AFA #‘s 17–21.

The broad­cast under­scores the pos­si­bil­i­ty that LSD and oth­er hal­lu­cino­gens may have been dis­sem­i­nat­ed, in part, in order to dif­fuse the pro­gres­sive polit­i­cal activism of the 1960’s.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: CIA direc­tor Allen Dulles’ pro­mo­tion of psy­cho­log­i­cal research by the Agency; the work of CIA physi­cian Dr. Sid­ney Got­tlieb for the Agen­cy’s Tech­ni­cal Ser­vices Divi­sion; con­nec­tions between Stark and the kid­nap­ping and assas­si­na­tion of Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Aldo Moro; Stark’s mys­te­ri­ous death in prison while await­ing tri­al; Leary’s con­nec­tions to the milieu of the “left” CIA and the role those con­nec­tions appear to have played in Leary’s flight from incar­cer­a­tion; the CIA’s intense inter­est in (and involve­ment with) the Haight-Ash­bury scene of the 1960s. (Record­ed on 4/26/87.)