Podcast 420 – “Grover Norquist at Burning Man”


Guest speaker: Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist delivering his 2014 Palenque Norte Lecture at the Burning Man FestivalPROGRAM NOTES:

The final speaker at the 2014 Palenque Norte Lectures, which are held at Burning Man each year, was Grover Norquist. According to Wikipedia, “… he is an American political advocate who is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that opposes all tax increases and a co-founder of the Islamic Free Market Institute. A libertarian-leaning Republican, he is the primary promoter of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” While to those who haven’t yet had an opportunity to attend Burning Man, his attendance at such an event may seem unlikely, in the extensive Q&A that followed his brief talk, it is quite evident that he has many admirers on the playa. I think that you will be fascinated as he very candidly discusses not just tax matters but also touches on what he thinks about Burning Man itself, as well as his position regarding psychedelics, legalizing cannabis, and mandatory minimum sentencing.

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Posted in Anarchism, Burning Man, Culture, Family, Future, Grover Norquist, Palenque Norte, Psychedelics, Rick Doblin.


  1. Just don’t let it be The Apocalypse Generation brought to you by Grover Norquist, Koch industries, Halliburton and Raytheon. 😛

  2. The recordings of Terrance must be running low. The past two episodes suggest we maybe loosing focus. Maybe time to examine the mission Lorenzo. Much affection.

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: Actually, and I am sincere in saying this, I’m not sure what the focus is/should be, as I’ve never had a mission. I just like listening to talks like the ones I podcast, and I pass them along. It’s my hobby . . . my mission, however, won’t become obvious until I publish my next novel (which is far from finished I should add :-). ]

  3. Perhaps the decision to have Grover speak at Palenque Norte as the grand finale was entirely by design?

    It would be quite inauspicious to have someone on stage who seems to define the antithesis of the values Burners espouse, but not so when you place him as the final speaker.

    His presence serves to jar listeners back into reality, a wake up call to remind people that this is the type of thing that needs to be overcome on an daily basis for there to be any positive change in the world.

    And who knows, maybe by having Grover go to Burning Man, something will have been awoken inside him?

  4. Hello tribe,
    So glad to see intelligent replies to this hallucination; sadly missing from the replies and questions of the burners. Yes, we all agree we want freedom from imposing institutions, but the speaker fails to point put that the government is OWNED by the corporate interests, the military-oil-weapons industry, and the profit-debt based paradigm. The government is the (sadly) only checks and balances we have against the corporate machinery. This corporate military complex would love total freedom from the regulatory government so then they can rape, pollute, and enslave others to unlimited profit potentials. Unregulated corporate-industrial practices is destroying the biosphere and widening the gap between the rich and the poor. No human should have millions of dollars worth of resources, no matter how ‘hard’ they feel they’ve worked for it. It’s a small planet and we all have the birth right to clean water, land to live on, and whole foods. Period. If we are going to have anything like a government, it should be decentralized, focused on regulating the corporate bullies, polluters, and their grotesque fascination with war. Yes, leave us people alone and regulate the self-serving institutions. The only problem is that the institutions own the government, so the system is basically fucked. I say SPIRITUAL ANARCHY!

  5. Hi Lorenzo, agree with what you said in the intro and don’t want to give you a hard time, but (i) what did this talk have to do with the theme of the Salon? and (ii) what was all that bs about climate change again? I mean, really. Sure the govt invents crises to get us to do what it wants, this counts as established fact. But this guy just avoided answering questions and wasn’t averse to creating a few “crises” of his own with precisely the same intention. Let him go to burning man, but in what way we were edified by this talk I really fail to grasp; there are far more articulate and relevant critics of the left out there who don’t feel a need to pontificate, make things up and scaremonger.

  6. Wow, weird guy! I’m Canadian and I don’t know who Grover is or what he’s on about most of the time, but one thing I noticed — he didn’t really seem to answer any of the questions, he would just start talking about something else! I really couldn’t follow him at all….

  7. Dear Lorenzo
    I loved your response to the comment above, you are a gentleman of taste, refinement and grace.
    I write today to tell you that I have solved the mind puzzle you have presented in this episode.
    Essentially, you show Grover as a juxtaposition with Terrence.
    Terrence’s message is: Dare to experience this life and you will face miraculous, terrifying, bewildering, and beautiful worlds.
    Grover’s message is that there is a giant parasite gnawing away at your freedom and if we just dissolve any public institution that is not a going profitable concern, the corporate owners will fix all societal problems.
    Thank you for showing us Grover’s better way.
    Once we have gained the necessary political power (after the public schools and labor unions have been abolished, of course), we must find a quick and efficient method of eradicating those who persist in being parasites. Maybe gas chambers.

  8. Lorenzo.
    I am having problems with the ARCHIVE. I downloaded the 400 show zip, but there is some huge error in that file. 70% of the 400 shows are the same Terrence Mckenna talk. The titles are different, but the audio and sub title is the same.
    The talk that is repeated about 300 times in the zip is ‘The psychedelic religious agenda’. Meaning 299 or so other shows are missing.
    You don’t seem to have an email so i wrote this here instead.
    I’d really like to get the full archive, as i will be offline for a long while in about a months time and wanted to listen to them all. Any chance you can fix the file?

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: They just refreshed the Internet Archive Salon podcast feen so please retry.]

  9. Jonathan,

    Though I’m not sympathetic to anyone who identifies as a Republican (or Democrat for that matter), the main problem with government is that it uses force and ultimately threats of violence in order to operate. The very fact that you are forced to support a monopoly (government, ie the state)is about as anti-peace, anti-pshychedelic / spiritual as it gets. It’s based in an insane belief in “authority” of some people over others. It’s based on a hallucination that certain people have rights (to tax, use fore against peaceful people, etc) that others don’t, just because they’ve been ordained with a badge or a special title. And all of this is justified by invoking the “social contract” which Terence Mckenna himself has denounced as a “linguistic enslavement”. See the notes to podcast #416:

    “They try to tell you that you’re in a social contract, but when you ask to see your signature on the document they tell you that you were born into this contract. Well what the hell kind of contract is that? It means that you were born into a kind of enslavement to a linguistically powered paradigm, a virtual reality within which you will walk around your entire life.” – Terence Mckenna

  10. Lorenzo, you are absolutely right in your introduction to this episode. There are enormous benefits to open-mindedness, and our community is like any other and could stand to be more open minded. I didn’t think I would learn much from listening to Norquist, but I decided to trust you and listen to the entire talk with a truly open mind, and I’m glad I did. I really did learn something.

    What I learned: My biases and prejudices were 100% correct – Grover Norquist truly is one of the most genuinely evil and duplicitous people on Earth. There is perhaps no one alive on this planet today whose truly harmful ideas have had more influence on the powerful people who run our society. Norquist has been unbelievably, enormously successful in getting his ideas implemented and has thereby caused a large amount of actual pain and suffering to current and future humans on this planet. His real genius is his cynical pantomime that somehow convinces people that his ideas are a poor victimized underdog raging against the powerful bully of government, when in fact over the last 30 years the powerful interests he represents have consolidated their wealth and manipulated policy to the greatest degree ever seen in history, to disastrous effect. His ideas are practically sacrosanct in Washington; cutting taxes is the gospel that neither Democrats or Republicans could even conceive of publicly opposing. The argument in every election is about who will cut taxes MORE…because that’s what the elites that actually run our lives want. He has been astonishingly successful at his project of reversing civilization, and is more responsible than anyone else for regressing our society back to the standards of the Gilded Age (he says his goal is to bring the government back to the levels of pre-Teddy Roosevelt – you know, the good old days!). If he continues to be so successful, in 20 or 30 years we’ll have him to thank when child labor laws are abolished and our young grandchildren go back to work, probably helping out in the fracking fields that will stretch as far as the eye can see. Job creation!

    Thankfully we live in a free enough society that even people with genuinely harmful and disgusting ideas can speak freely. Censorship is a cancer. We can learn from even the most revolting and anti-social sources, be it reading Mein Kampf or Mao’s Little Red Book, attending a Klan rally or listening to a lecture by a cunning, disingenuous psychopath like Grover Norquist. Societies can only benefit when all ideas flow freely and are considered with open minds. I’m glad I gave this talk a listen. I had a feeling, but now I know.

  11. Okay let’s start at the beginning. “We all want to be left alone by
    government”. Uh no. To be left alone by government is to remove
    the demos from democracy. This is intellectually lazy, fundamentally
    irresponsible and anti-democratic. The organizers of BM have previously steadfastly declined to take any political positions and then
    they give this egregious political hack a forum and treat him as
    an honored guest. Sickening.

    Thanks for all you have done…till this

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: You are incorrect about the organizers of BM being responsible for this talk. Grover was invited by the organizers of the Palenque Norte Lectures, of whom I am one. The BM organization doesn’t get involved in theme camp activities (for the most part :-).

  12. Too bad you didn’t have a podcast specifically on the “420” celebration for your #420th. Grover Norquist would’ve been better slotted for future episode #666.

  13. Lorenzo,
    I love the podcast, and appreciate all your work but you lost me on this one. I can’t see what you like about this guy. Smoke a joint with him, really? Have you researched him? He’s clearly a salesman for the Republican group who decided to see if he could go to Burning Man and infiltrate/infect the scene with his rhetoric. I’m all for listening to various points of view but if I want his I can crank some right wing talk radio. It would be one thing if he criticized both political parties but he seems to think that the left is crazy but the right side is competently reasonable. The few agreeable things he said aren’t enough to make me overlook his odious presence in the political world. NRA board member, Climate Change denier, he’s on the wrong side of history.
    Anyway, thanks for all you do.

  14. HI Lorenzo,

    I too was struck by your reference to the Oroboros in your into. I have seen a similarity when dealing with family members and a few friends. We don’t stop loving each other because we disagree on politics. Rare, I know. But we do have a rollicking row once in a while to sort things out. I can’t say I agree with Mr. Norquist very much. He voices several already disproven assumptions about the way things are going, such as failing to acknowledge that private school are part of the problem. I can site at least one example in Louisiana here:http://dianeravitch.net/2013/03/12/why-charter-schools-failed-in-louisiana/. The question I would ask is how he would deal with people who do things that harm our environment and reduce diversity. It isn’t even the case that allowing persons or corporations do what ever they want in the name of economy brings the results in the form of jobs that are promised. Seems as if he would just rather not deal with things as they are, just in ways that would affect him, especially financially. Its a refusal to take responsibility for living on this planet. He is in denial and would like others to go into denial with him. It is unfortunate indeed. Hopefully if you do get to smoke with him Lorenzo, you won’t have to be as polite as you are with him on air.

  15. Home school your children, fine.

    Let people have some reasonable guns, fine. It’s in the second amandment.

    But his tax arguments are so tired and stale. They’re from the era of the 1980’s about how the government is not in any way “We the People” but solely a big bad boogy man. The main problem with the government is that it’s CORPORATIZED mainly representing billionaires due to 30+ years of right-wing Reaganomics, which Norquist only works to continue. And of course he never has any mention of Casino Capitalism letting corporations rape the earth’s resources for profit or the US’s mid-evil distribution of wealth, which raising taxes on only the highest-earning 50 families would balance out. http://www.lcurve.org

    Norquist’s mind is like a clouded puddle and Terence Mckenna’s mind was a beautiful ocean.

  16. When our esteemed host said at the beginning of the episode that he didn’t mean to call Grover a snake, I thought it was polite. Then after I listened I was convinced that snake is the perfect tem for him. Classic obfuscation, as well as a one dimensional non-psychedelic view-point.
    Blame the left without ever acknowledging the consumerist-military-industrialist elephant in the room.
    In fact, I’ll need a few weeks away from the podcast to get the taste of snake out of my mouth.
    GPS crossroads wins again.

  17. Wow not quite what I was expecting!
    As any trip I guess we never know where it may take us.
    This is part of the “big picture” that is to say no matter what I believe or my community believes there are many others(communities) playing in the sand box and they have their own beliefs and values.. so we may want to start finding the similarities and start desolving the boundaries we impose upon ourselves. Not to say Grover (wicked name lol) has it all figured out, but I found myself (scarily enough) often agreeing with what he had to say..NOT EVERYTHING.

    Now I do not agree with legalizing and taxing marijuana… I am of the belief it ought to be decriminalized.. simply put whomever wants to produce it and use it and share with those unable to can and not have to be licensed or taxed… imagine if that were the case for your veggie garden.

    Lorenzo im in full agreeance the system is flawed.. fotuneately we have the rights to give the power to individuals to change it..arguably thats part of the problem.. but thats the system weve imposed upon ourselves…so lets ..in the spirit of burning man..destroy it and build another(simplistic view but fitting)

    Thanks again for the podcast im new to the salon but am devouring past episodes and am greatful for the easy access to this invaluable information 🙂

  18. The 3rd Reich dominated much of the world but it was not tax policy that brought them down. Roman Taxes were just one part of a policy of unadorned massive theft of land and resources that despite Rome’s cruel efficiency and military power eventually created enough enemies to be indefensible. The 99 percent brought them down. His party has never cut budgets as promised. A true libertarian makes sense at burning man but please, this guy is a scam artist for the Republican use of Tax money: war for oil, defend corporate exploitation and eco rape. His expertise is lying to members of the Republican coalition .
    We home schooled our children and know the bullshit version of history contained in home school history books endorsed by the Grover Norquist and the Christian right crowd.
    Why is it OK to have a world dominating empire that tells other countries what to do but not OK to tell multi billion dollar corporations to pay taxes?

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