One of the 10 founding principles of the Burning Man festival held in the Nevada desert each year is decommodification: "[O]ur community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience," reads the Burning Man website.
And yet, despite Burning Man's anti-consumerist ethos, many billionaires (particularly from Silicon Valley) attend. This year, hedge fund guru Ray Dalio attended the event, which took place from Aug. 25 through Sept. 2.
"Just back from Burning Man. Reminds me of Woodstock with better art (installations) and less good music," he tweeted Monday, referencing the famous Woodstock Music & Art Fair held in Bethel, New York in 1969. "What a great vibe and what amazing creativity!"
The event has become famous for its impressive art installations and participants' elaborate costumes, and Dalio, 70, dressed for the occasion: In the photo he tweeted he was dressed in tie-dyed pants, a tie-dyed jacket with a blue fur collar and goggles (worn to keep the sand out of your eyes in the desert) on his forehead.
Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, is pictured with his friend and colleague, Jeff Taylor, the founder of job website Monster.com and current senior executive at Bridgewater.
Dalio's attendance at the anti-commercial, pro-community artist festival in the desert drew criticism, with many saying his attendance at the festival represents an irrevocable change in the tide of the culture of Burning Man.
"Wall Street guys at burning man !?!?! WOW, I know people have spelled the end of BM many times but this has got to be the actual end," one Twitter user commented. "Burning Man has officially jumped the shark," another tweeted.
Others commended the billionaire for his willingness to head to the desert and participate in the event.
"Glad you got out there and had fun! I've been twice and it's such a unique & inspiring week in the desert. Really makes you think about what's possible for humanity," one twitter user said. "I like you, Ray. You're smart, have common sense, and know how to have a good time. Keeping doing you, buddy," said another.
Dalio is certainly not the first billionaire to attend Burning Man. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp have all attended Burning Man, according to Bloomberg.
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