Jacob Davies takes a trip:

Burning Man is sort of nuts, and sort of like the future. Nobody has a job. There's nothing you can buy but everyone sort of has what they need anyway. Physical conditions suck. But everyone is really, really happy anyway. Things get done by volunteers, usually, mostly. Tattooed, unshaven people who you would probably give a wide berth on the street are expertly driving enormous cranes and forklifts, or rigging pyrotechnics. Women in miniskirts and pasties are working with tools you have no idea how to use. Everywhere people are just doing exactly what they feel like doing.

Did I mention that they're all really happy? They're happy, I think, because nobody is telling them what to do, and it turns out that when nobody is telling anyone what to do, everybody is really, really nice. People are nice. OK, there are jerks. But it demonstrates that under the right conditions - and not necessarily conditions of great comfort or leisure - people can be really nice. They can be really happy. They can get big things done. And they can do much of that - not nearly all, but much of it - without the trappings of modern industrial life - jobs, salaries, competition, status displays, credentials, advertising, branding, the rat race.

I would think, ahem, they are all happy because they're so high they'd be making love with a cactus if it didn't hurt so much. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, if it floats your boat and you have plenty of neosporin lying around. But please. I love all of this, have a deep and abiding respect for bohemianism and a Hayekian love of the miracle of this sudden human community. I know many very (temporarily?) sober people help make this happen and not so-sober people who are among the sweetest people I have ever met. In fact, I'm sure many are way cool, mellow and reveal that being a hippie - even a temporary one - is probably far closer to the Christian ethics Jesus actually preached than most evangelical churches.

But ignoring the pot, ecstasy, shrooms and acid that make it what it is is like discussing a Tea Party convention as if there were no white people there.

(Image via TDW)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.