As of 2009, Burning Man is society's officially sanctioned counter-cultural movement. And as this movement, it has no forward momentum.
It is a party in the desert. That's basically it.
It is fun and it is harsh. The environment in itself is beautiful and amazing. The culture of Burning Man is divided into two categories - 1) them 2) us. 'Us' consists of about 20% of the population of the City who mostly volunteer to work for the primary benefit of counting themselves part of the 'us' clique (they even get T-shirts to prove it). Needless to say, 'us' is a really annoying group (mostly). 'Them' is everyone else - mostly clueless spectators who have little or no interest in participating in activities or creating events or making art. When 'they' finally poke their heads out of their massive RVs, it's with the general purpose of taking pictures of freaks & geeks so they can prove to their friends back home that they 'did' Burning Man.
Freaks & geeks are another class separate from 'them' and separate from 'us' (but more them than us - thankfully). They consist of long-time participants called 'burners' who have attended the festival roughly more than 4 or 5 years. The also consist of newbies who are trying desperately to fit-in to appear as burners. They wear Utilikilts and repeat sayings like, 'safety 3rd' as if that signals to others they're 'in' on something cool. When they're not dropping names like telling you how they just had sex with LadyBee or had a beer with Larry Harvey, they're 'joking' about bacon or other sanctioned Burning Man topics with the design of impressing you. And who are you? You're just trying to get to the portapotties in hopes of escaping this moron who won't stop talking to you. No one cares that you 'know' Danger Ranger!!
If you say 'F yer day!' one more time in hopes of impressing me - I'm going to kill you. Which is why I no longer attend Burning Man.