Grover Norquist at burning man?

It just seems weird to me. Why is this something he’d be interested in?

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The latest R meme is about how the left is a bunch of elitist hipsters. It’s not enough to attack people who are manifestly not elitist hipsters (Neil Tyson, e.g.), apparently they are making an expedition to Hipster Center. I hope there are plenty of posters up at Black Rock with James O’Keefe’s gawky mugshot on them.


Here is a question I have, and I am sincere that I would like someone to shed some light on this.
Norquist’s issues, boiled down to their essence, is that he is a person opposed to big government. He attacks it through taxation, but it is still in essence about opposing big government.

Many, if not most, of the people here are opposed to big government, and it shines brightly in discussions of copyright law, surveillance, etc.

*Background comment - I grew up in the Vietnam era when the manifestation of big government was not to simply watch your emails, but to literally remove you from your home and place you in a potentially fatal situation against your will. Forced labor of the worst kind. The liberal position at that time was to oppose big government after witnessing how it could be turned against the people it supposedly served. I learned the lesson well. *

Superficially, it seems to me that he is labeled “conservative” and most here call themselves “liberal” so it appears that there is a reflexive response to him, when, in reality, there is a lot of philosophical common ground (and if you are into labels, we could call it “libertarian”) So here’s the question - Why the intense dislike of Norquist?

I also describe myself as libertarian, but he is a libertarian-capitalist and I am a libertarian-communist. I view capitalism with the same distrust as I do with government, as they often have the same agenda.

I could have given a more in depth answer but I need to go somewhere else soon.


Because I disagree with him, that’s why. Full stop. Plus, I find him to be grating and arrogant in his views. So there is that. And he clearly is about profiting off the system and his position within it. Just look at how he profited off his relationship with Jack Abramoff.

He views any sort of taxation as “communism” and that’s just patently untrue. Nothing that FDR did, for example was “communist”, it was meant to stop the rise of both fascism and communism in the face of a social and economic emergency world wide. While big government can be an issue, this is related to who actually makes policy and how policy interacts with people’s everyday lives - ask people in the nordic countries how they feel about “big government” that actually works for them. He wants a system that privileges the rich and large corporate interests. We need a system that actually benefits the most people…

As long as we live in a capitalist society, we need some sort of protections from exploitation, because capitalism is exploitative. corporations are huge entities with an enormous amount of powers that DO NOT have our best interest at heart. This has been shown time and again historically. They are created simply to make money for the people who have a stake in the company. It’s not about making the world better, because they will tear it apart if it gets those stock prices soaring. they will underpay their workers, and even use slave labor if it suits their needs. For example, the capitalist paradise known as Dubai:

Now - has capitalism created a vast amount of wealth and lifted some out of poverty, you bet! Even Zizek has admitted this fact. Hell, even Marx argued that and he did that in the 19th century - he was glad that old regime was being wiped out before his very eyes. But the times when it benefited the most people was when people agitated for government regulation in their favor - unions were the strongest in the 50s, and (white) workers benefited (race is a complicated factor here, just look at Sugrue’s monograph on Detroit). But it has also impoverished people historically in the process and helped to create artificial differences that are dangerous and destructive today (rise of nation-states, the rise of race as an organizing principle, the rise of colonialism, etc). The rise of mass agriculture with the “discovery” of the new world is one example (see Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power for that story - also, see Mike Davis’ Late Victorian Holocaust).

Given the realities of our system, and what it will mean if it falls apart, there is nothing wrong with calling for a tax base that actually provides the general funds for a working society within the capitalist system and I’m kind of sick of people like Norquist using invective against people who do support that. Those who disagree with his political views are not evil stalinists… we are people who disagree with him! It’s, at the kindest, disingenious and ahistorical of him to do this. We as a country, in fact, pay more in taxes, but get less services than just about any other developed country. We do far less for our citizens than any other developed country. Why? Because large corporations need the “freedom” to be “job creators”… never mind that many of those jobs do not pay a wage where people can support themselves and their families.

Now, do I think that the modern system we live in is corrupt and problematic? Yes. I do. A major reason for that is the role that corporations play (though it is also institutionalization in general that’s a major part of the problem). Do I have more leftist tendencies? I do. But I also recognize that completely pulling down the system, for the sake of it would be incredibly destructive to my fellow human beings, no matter how that’s done - whether it’s through a radical, leftist revolution, as advocated by groups like the weathermen or the Panthers (though they actually did go in for some rather pragmatic solutions under Elaine Brown’s leadership in the early 70s) or if it’s strangling government in a bathtub, so some rich, old white business men can turn a faster buck. Our goal should be to increase freedom, but ever more that is connected to only the freedom related to spending money and making money - this is in fact the “objectivist”, libertairian capitalist definition of freedom, as far as I can see. That is not the only definition of freedom, and in fact is the least constructive definition, IMHO. In a society with wealth rules, do you think that those without any wealth are actually free? Free to die miserably under a bridge pass maybe. We live in a time and place where nearly everything costs. How do you think that impacts people’s daily lives, if they are poor?

We don’t just live in a capitalist system, we live in a system that is set up on the notion that individuals within the system spend what they make and that is what the system rests upon. We are a consumer capitalist society. I don’t think that’s really debatable. In order to keep our economy humming and healthy, you need a majority of people, if not all people, able to spend over and above their basic needs. Some libertarians actually recognize that and support a basic income (though I’m not sure what the angle is at this point):

Whether that’s a good idea or not, I don’t know.

I guess the truth is, I don’t know what the answers are, but I don’t like Norquist’s solutions, because it doesn’t seem people centered to me. It seems corporation centered. I don’t think that he cares that we have major collective issues that we need to address, I think he gets off on playing the game and that it has materially benefited him. I think, like many other people who are part of the game, he doesn’t care about the rest of us. That includes 99.9% of DC, regardless of party. The few who care are little heard and little noticed, because they actually do work for their constituents - hence, they aren’t interesting to the media.

But, you probably disagree, and that’s fine. YMMV. That’s just how I feel.


Thx for the extensive reply.
Your disagreement seems to be centered on what you see as Norquist promoting capitalism.

I didn’t know a whole lot about him until this thread popped up. I knew, of course, that he was anti-tax in all forms.

I started reading, and here is what I found:

He is strident about decreasing taxes, personal and corporate.
He started the Islamic Free Market Institute
He is on the board of GOProud, an LGBT group
His group, Americans for Tax Reform, is supporting Uber and Lyft in their attempts to overhaul the taxi system
ATR is stridently opposed to taxing the internet.

Their opposition to regulation is apparent in the support of Uber and Lyft, and I think many here would agree with this. An example of government regulation being used to allow ancient companies to thwart innovative competition, often by buying favors from corrupt city politicians.
How far this opposition to regulation goes, I couldn’t find out today. I would like our regulators to go after the criminals responsible for the crash of 2008. Clearly there were those involved in the credit default swaps who were criminally liable. I don’t know what their position on this would be, but I do know that the Obama administration has done nothing at all to prevent a repeat of this crisis. No one has been even indicted. Obama, IMHO has been bought off. You could hardly do worse with Norquist.

Regarding Burning Man: It’s instructive to learn why he is going. He was invited by Larry Harvey, the founder of BM. Clearly, Harvey sees something in Norquist that goes beyond the charicature that the simple minded reporters in the liberal press promote.

a quote about why he is going:

"Burning Man relies on a “giving economy” where attendees are encouraged to give goods and services free of charge—a system that Harvey has called “old-fashioned capitalism.” And this is hardly the first instance of capitalists like Norquist being drawn to Burning Man. In recent years, Silicon Valley’s elite, including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, have flocked to the event.

Norquist says the festival is a good example of the theory of spontaneous order. The theory, which was promoted by Austrian economists like Friedrich Hayek, holds that a natural structure will emerge out of a seemingly chaotic environment without need for outside intervention.

“There’s no government that organizes this,” Norquist said. “That’s what happens when nobody tells you what to do. You just figure it out. So Burning Man is a refutation of the argument that the state has a place in nature.”

I think if you would try to look at this objectively, you would be surprised that Norquist’s positions are in line with those of many who read BoingBoing.

I think that he has been portrayed as an icon of conservatism, but when you look, there is none of the religiosity that that label normally implies. He really seems to about reducing the ability of the government to control our lives, and that transcends the simplistic “conservative” and “liberal” labels.

I am attracted to any attempt to reduce the ability of government to interfere with my life, whether it be taxation to maintain useless government agencies (a “conservative” position), or to tell someone that they should not have an abortion (a “liberal” position). In Norquist’s case, I think the simplistic labels that we in this soundbite culture absorb, are completely inadequate to understand what he is really about.

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It appears to me that you found that you believe your barely informed recently googled opinion is more fully informed than people with their experience, something you will mansplain.

And as far a I can tell, you brought Obama into it because you hate him?

That about right?

Oh, a deep think and mendacious? aren’t you sweet.


didn’t like what I said, I see.

You didn’t really do anything to add to the discussion, just name calling, and referring to noxious activities of his that apparently you can’t detail.

If I am “barely informed”, it seems I have more actual information than you, unless you have direct experience of him that you decided not to share

If you do have any real information about his approach to corporate regulation, please inform me. I suspect I would prefer more regulation than he would, but I don’t know.

And please, it really is possible to have a discussion without name calling and pejorative terms.

It’s pretty clear that you aren’t actually “curious” about why people across the political spectrum enjoy taking a dump on Grover Norquist, you just want to draw people out to take a retaliatory dump on them. You are dumping into the wind, so to speak.


thanks for completely flattening what I said. Edited to add: I am pro-people centered and anti-corporate centered. If we can get a variant of capitalism that completely eliminates exploitation, than great. If we can’t then I’m anti-capitalist. In that sense, I am completely pragmatic. I want the best solution to our collective problems and that’s the problem with getting wrapped up in these designation and ideologies. If we learned anything from the failed experiment of the Communist and fascist states in the 20th century, we should have learned that strict adherence to ideology is not only bad form, but downright dangerous to human life. the reason why the US/western democracies “won” the cold war, is due to the ability to be incredibly flexible ideologically. We did far worse whenever we adhered to things ideologically (see Vietnam or the McCarthy trials).


I actually don’t. So there is that. I think these are little more than an end run around city regulation, actually.

Is it his religion? then maybe he should butt out?

Good for him. He should be proud of that and continue to support the LBGT community.

Is Obama bought off? Well, is he POTUS? Then he’s probably bought off. Do you not know how the political system works in America?

DING, DING, DING!!! I just got bingo!!! The mass media isn’t “liberal” it’s corporate. That’s just as true of left leaning, right leaning, and non-partisan media. Not having a media that is for the people, by the people, free of corporate influence, is the problem.

But he’s right on board with giant corporations who don’t have to answer to us as a people controlling our lives, so there is where we diverge, apparently. While, of course, we all know that this can be problematic, we do have mechanisms for holding poltiicians and public institutions accountable. When it’s a privately held corporation who is in control, there is far less accountability. That’s my problem. that doesn’t mean I don’t understand and recognize that government can’t be deeply corrupt, because of course it can. No one has argued otherwise. But, though it’s tough to do so, I can find ways to hold the public sector accountable. I can’t do that with a private corporation i nthe same way. It actually further entrenches corruption. FFS, look at the privately run prison system.


Advertising has been the engine of craven pseudo-objectivity for over 100 years. It’s odd that the relentless decline in cost of production for newspapers, combined with the spiraling of ad revenues, hasn’t caused local newspapers to relaunch with ad-free subscription business models. Instead, they want to return to the early nineties, when profit margins were 30 percent or more under centralized corporate ownership. So local newspapers (and their online presences) are so hungry for ad revenue that they have virtually no actual content any more.

People joke about the death of print news, but it needn’t be so. With a subscription base and low production costs, their ad departments could be axed entirely and content could be reoriented to the subscribers—and draw in new subscribers with promotional copies. Without the ad marketing department, the organization gets leaner. Without ads, the paper is compact and much more readable. And as on the Internet under Adblock, trivial promotional bullshit has a harder time posing as content.

Local/regional media has the opportunity to make print-subscription work in a way that national corporate media can’t. But because all the local papers are owned by failing ad-based conglomerates, they will just continue to fail rather than adjust.

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Because in addition to what @Mindysan33 said (bravo!), the dude has made a career out of strong-arming politicians (mostly Republicans) into signing his anti-tax pledge and making sure that if they don’t support it 100%, even when that means going against the desire of their constituents and the best interests of those constituents and the country as a whole, they pay a severe political price and frequently lose their jobs. He thinks it’s a good thing that half the politicians in this country are more loyal to him and his adolescent “drown it in a bathtub” ideology than to anything their job description tells them they should actually serve.


Absolutely! It’s political ideology that seeks to ignore democracy… he knows what’s best for people, so he feels justified in subverting democracy when it suits his agenda. Debates around various public policies need to happen in public, not through lobbying and subterfuge.


That’s what it comes down to: the man is a fanatic, just as much as Trotsky or Robespierre. What ensures that he’ll eventually lose is that modern media has drained most of the benefit out of using violence to subvert democracy. He’s in the light and can’t rely on literal shock troops to chill opposition. When fanatics like Norquist are able to again use violence with impunity against his own country, then he and his ilk might have a chance to get ahead of democracy again.

Frankly, @rexdog, the reason Norquist (and the associated herd of ilk) get so much shit is because not many people are afraid of him. Even politicians aren’t afraid of him unless they have found themselves surrounded by musky corporate ilk during R primaries. So if you want something to take back to the R cave about why “young people” don’t respond to his garbage, then take this: corporatists overreached, and their alliance with fascist social conservatives from the 70s through the nulldrums (00s) has placed them so far beyond contempt that no amount of backpedalling will fix it. Norquist’s brand is on fire and his only utility is in preaching to the converted. Backpedaling on social issues will only hurt his retirement package. The idea that he could engage in outreach is ridiculous.


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Ygritte knows what an ilk is, for sure.

Edit: To pedantically explain the joke for people under 40, there’s a Dirty Harry movie where Harry refers to a bad guy and his “ilk”.

“You know what an ilk, is, don’t you?”
“Dah. It’s a big deer!”
“That’s right.”

Ygritte, of course, knows big deer as well as ilk, and has perforated both.

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She’s loving your comment, is all… it’s fantastic!

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The snarkhammer has its uses.