ERE vs Minimalism

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Jin+Guice
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ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:30 am

I wanted to join in the fun of false dichomoty vs. ERE threads. It is perhaps absurd to say that ERE is at odds with minimalism, yet Jacob has stated several times that, while he is inspired by minimalism, he is not a minimalist.

What's the minimalism mentality vs the web of goals mentality? A minimalist would seek to avoid an activity they are bad at where a web-of-goalsist would seek to figure out a way to incorporate it into their web of goals. Of course minimalists can't eliminate everything and a web of goals oriented person won't include everything in their goals.

The intersectionality/ conflict of these two ought to be interesting. This topic is partially covered in the "Limit your Choices (viewtopic.php?f=6&p=179281#p179281)" thread.

I often think "should I minimize this or should I web of goals it." That is, should I learn how to do this or just not do it. That's how I see these as opposing viewpoints.

BRUTE
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 13, 2018 2:00 am

it seems to brute that minimalisms usually focus on one dimension, and that dimension is typically determined by the aesthetic preferences of the minimalist. some like the "clean white room and 1 outfit" style of minimalism. brute, for a while, practiced the "<100 items in 1 backpack" style (and rented furnished apartments, outsourcing most of his cooking, and so on). others focus on minimizing their environmental footprint.

the web of goal is inherently multi-dimensional. theoretically humans could be minimalists in multiple dimensions, but that doesn't often seem the case.

chenda
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by chenda » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:00 am

I tend to self-identify more as a minimalist now, I never really gelled with the web-of-goals idea. Not a criticism of web-of-goals, I just didn't mesh with it.

The minimalism community, at least which I selectively follow, does tend to use minimalist philosophy in multiple dimensions, and there is a lot of overlap with vegetarianism, veganism, simple living, high saving rates, semi-retirement, flexible lifestyles etc etc

The purely aesthetic minimalist does exist, but aesthetics often to be gateway into other areas of minimalist living. There is probably a lot more commercialisation of minimalism than ERE; designer products and minimalist branding. Quite a few minimalist vlogs I follow do work as micro marketers promoting products. On the other hand, that probably gives it a wider and more mainstream appeal than ERE. Either way, its a sound philosophy which I think is complimentary to Jacobs aims for ERE.

oldbeyond
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by oldbeyond » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:35 am

I don't think that minimalists are necessarily one-dimensional. At least most of the major blogs seem to talk quite a bit about commitments, relationships, career, health, managing attention, even personal finance nowadays. I guess counting possessions gets most of the focus, just as counting financial stocks/flows gets to be what we spend most of our energy on.

To me the difference is something like this:

- "Normies" live in a state of chaotic complexity. To much stuff that serves no purpose, a multitude of cards and accounts that are impossible to keep track of, off-and-on diets and workout regimens, commitments that are heterotelic.

- Minimalists look at the chaos, and respond by deliberately reducing complexity, creating structured simplicity. Possessions get pared down to the minimum, 1 card/1 checking account/1 brokerage account(perhaps containing one index fund?) with the same bank is used, one strict diet and workout regimen is chosen("I'm on paleo and do crossfit"), commitments are downsized to a few core ones.

- Emergent Renaissance Ecologists look at the chaos, trash it and start over, deliberately crafting structured complexity, where the structure isn't simple anymore, but still manageable. Stuff might be kept around in the form of tools/supplies/stores of wealth, personal finance might be quite sophisticated with not only different cards and accounts but also several concurrent trading/investment strategies to hedge fat tails or increase returns, diet might vary opportunistically with the seasons, several different activities might be used for exercise(some also serving as entertainment, labour for oneself or others etc), commitments might be more numerous but homeotelic.

(To make a nice 2x2 I would have to come up with a definition of chaotic simplicity, the fact that I can't perhaps points to a flaw in my model, but I'll post it anyways.)

Maintaining structured complexity takes skill and work, failing means falling into chaotic complexity(say you can't keep track of your finances anymore or the tools and supplies become junk that you never use). So perhaps if you struggle with something, say health, structured simplicity might be preferable to overextending yourself. Perhaps after a while you'll grow in that area and be able to handle a more complex structure. Like a new runner might run 5km three times a week at a given speed, while an experienced one might vary intensity between runs and also over the running season.

oldbeyond
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by oldbeyond » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:37 am

This also ties in with the thread about limiting your choices: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10321

fell-like-rain
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by fell-like-rain » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:29 am

The one connecting thread of all strands of minimalism seems to be reducing the number of material possessions (and one's attachment to them). I think this conflicts with ERE because they're essentially saying 'have as few things as possible' rather than 'have only the things you need'. A traditional farm, for example, would be very ERE-aligned but not very minimalist, because it requires a large number of material items in order to function and promotes a deep emotional connection to the land and the things you've built on it.

Jason
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:44 am

Generally speaking, the current Western expression of minimalism i.e. "I was a rich successful douche who found that possessions are meaningless and now I am going to be a rich successful douche filming myself in high end bookstores telling other people how I am a rich successful douche who found out that possessions are meaningless" starts from a the position of being able to be such a douche who can afford such possessions. Now go tell a poor Easterner living in a mud hut how they are lucky to have no choice but to be a minimalist. ERE avoids that.

chenda
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by chenda » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:56 am

Having a few things as possible for its own sake is a somewhat superficial minimalism, unless it's for a particular purpose i.e you're a nomad. For most serious minimalists it's about streamlining possessions for more space, clarity, money, efficiency, well being etc. You could certainly be a prepper with loads of stuff and be a minimalist.

@jason This is common criticism ERE gets as well and is easily refuted for much of the minimalist community, high end bookstores notwithstanding.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:16 am

Evangelical minimalism is not about converting consumers. It's about being holier than thou. "My preferences make me better than you."

I'm a minimalist because I hate losing and breaking stuff. My solution is to have less stuff. When I lose or break something, I imagine all the hours i spent earning the money to buy the thing. Those hours are now slave labor.

Minimalism is consistent with a web of goals because it accomplishes multiple desirable outcomes. It lowers spending, increases available living space, reduces moving costs, etc. But these are mainly ex post facto justifications for what I prefer anyway.

The Old Man
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by The Old Man » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:48 am

A high savings rate is a natural byproduct of Minimalism, so I see no conflict with ERE. In fact I would go so far as to say that Minimalism is the gateway to doing ERE in an effortless manner (i.e. there is no sacrifice).

jacob
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by jacob » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:07 am

It's best to make the distinction between voluntary simplicity/simple living and minimalism.

Simple living or voluntary simplicity which is about removing complications (the limit your choices thread, having 1 pen, 1 bank account, ... one cup, one suit).

Minimalism is about achieving the maximum effect with the fewest possible "things". Like with personal finance, there are many different kinds of minimalism. The kind of personal finance that does best in consumer media is +1 Wheaton level beyond consumerism. Similarly, the kind of minimalism that does best in consumer media will tend to focus on the best stuff to buy to look good on an iPhone screen. Since minimalism is about ROI one can expend as much effort as one wants ... essentially it's an s-curve (yay!)

My own web-of-goals is inspired primarily by minimalism in that I go over it to see if I can get the same results with fewer "things". This is very much what the homeotelic construction method generated because I don't have to add complications to compensate for goals pointing the wrong way. However, this is different from seeking outright to eliminate all complications. I just want to design the web to get rid of the useless ones.

A web-of-goals inspired by simplicity would instead seek to cut away parts of the web. Perhaps because the web is too complicated or complex. Simple Living might not even like messing with complex things like strategic webs in the first place.

Jin+Guice
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:43 am

@Jason: The rich minimalist as douche is a popular narrative. It seems like when any fringe movement picks up steam the press likes to show you that it's exclusively for rich people. I remember reading an article titled something like "Is Minimalism Only for the Rich?" and thinking how insane just the title was. OTOH, there are certainly a lot of dbag rich minimalists; however, maybe being able to afford almost anything you want and then realizing that you mostly want nothing does actually say something, even if it's said by a rich douche.



I've explored some minimalist blogs but they've all fallen into the same category as the lesser FIRE blogs for me. I'll read them for a week or two and then get bored. I pretty much stopped doing this after I joined this forum as the content here is generally higher than most blogs. I will say that from my brief interaction with minimalists they do sort of push the "who has less stuff" thing. I imagine this is both to appeal to consumers (easy to switch over from "who has more stuff" to "who has less") they wish to convert and as a bit of minimalist competition, much like we spend hours debating which rent imputation method should be used to compare JLF to MMM to ourselves. Minimalist writers generally come off a bit high minded as well.

What I like about minimalism is that saying that having less is the goal in a culture that constantly declares, in every possible way, that whoever has the most is the de facto and unquestionable winner, is simple but powerful. The problem of our time is not that we have too little but that we have too much, in almost every dimension, yet somehow still demand ever more. Minimalism addresses this and offers a simple elegant solution.


ERE addresses this problem too. ERE encourages minimizing possessions/ distractions/ relationships/ commitments but not to the point of minimalism. I imagine the minimalist living a simpler life but also accomplishing less.


The question that's interesting to me and where I see the philosophies coming into conflict is when it comes to learning something vs. finding a way not to do it. I view learning a new skill as the ERE way where as not doing it is the minimalist way. This is not to say that ERE people will know how to do everything or that minimalists hate learning. However, in general, I think that the web of goals philosophy would encourage learning to do something where minimalism would encourage finding a way to not do it. Let's take home repair as an example. I imagine renting as small a place as possible to be the minimalist thing where as buying a "reasonably sized" fixer upper and learning how to DIY all the repair would be the most ERE thing. The ERE method is much more time and energy consuming but in the end you know how to fix up all future houses you might live in as well as repair your current one should anything break. I'm not sure minimalism says anything about whether you should learn to do a task or outsource that task to someone else (maybe outsource?), but I would imagine they would simply seek to avoid having to deal with a broken home in the first place. They'll end up with less skills, but also less hassle and more energy and time for other things.

Said another way, I see minimalists as veering more towards a specialist mentality while ERE veers towards more generalist.

Jason
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:52 am

It seems to me, high end book store minimalists are selling the concept as an aesthetic that has beneficial psychological effects i.e. don't surround your mounted HDTV with picture frames containing photos of your dead pet. This will not only create a tidier life environment but will allow you to move on from seeing Fido's head separated from his body when that drunken unlicensed school bus driver ran the curb when he was innocently taking an unauthorized dump on your neighbor's lawn. Ok. Now let's move on to the proper way for a man to roll up his skinny jeans despite the fact that he is twenty years too old to be wearing them in the first place.

I think even the most superficially conceived version of ERE and/or the most superficially perceived version of ERE is at least a half click above that.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:16 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:43 am
I remember reading an article titled something like "Is Minimalism Only for the Rich?" and thinking how insane just the title was.
viewtopic.php?t=9806

The concept is legit. If you're poor and broke and trying to scrape by with all the meager means available, it's not "minimalism" or "frugality." Those terms both imply a voluntary decision, where the opposite choice is available.

Jason
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jason » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:41 am

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:43 am
however, maybe being able to afford almost anything you want and then realizing that you mostly want nothing does actually say something, even if it's said by a rich douche.
The other day I was kind of driven off the road by a guy in a "fancy" car. I swore to myself "Fancy Ass Car Driving Douche" Then I realized I could "afford" the car he was driving, maybe even more than he could. It was a realization. I could be that douche. It felt good. Then a cop pulled me over and gave me a $200 speeding ticket which pretty much ended the matter.

prognastat
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by prognastat » Thu Dec 13, 2018 12:05 pm

I'd say minimalism and ERE overlap some, but definitely have a lot that doesn't overlap. You could be spending 200k a year, buying few very expensive things and travelling a lot, and still call yourself minimalist. You couldn't call it ERE though.

On the flip side there can be times someone following an ERE lifestyle would choose to spend money and increase their possessions to increase either their self-sustainability or future savings where a minimalist might recommend it adds complexity and would advise against it. This could be in the form of buying more tools or books/skills.

The overlap of course is that ERE does trend towards minimalism in that it asks you to look at which items aren't adding value to your life and removing them rather than simply accumulating possessions.

Jin+Guice
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:43 pm

ThisDinosaur wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:16 am
viewtopic.php?t=9806

The concept is legit. If you're poor and broke and trying to scrape by with all the meager means available, it's not "minimalism" or "frugality." Those terms both imply a voluntary decision, where the opposite choice is available.
Eh, I know this is argued to death in the thread you linked to, but I think adopting a minimalist or ERE mindset would help you if you are broke. I'm assuming of course that you are in a rich western nation, which is who both the article of the linked frugality for the rich article and the minimalism article I read are addressing. It is of course possible to either A) lose the genetic lottery (mental handicap/ cancer in your 30s) and/ or have some horrible accident happen to you B) be responsible for someone suffering from A and of meager means or C) fuck yourself so hard early in life (single parent of low means with multiple kids and no education from a poor background being the easiest way I can think of) that you can't really ERE or minmalist yourself out of the situation. Of course adopting these philosophies would still ultimately help your station. Do you possess the cultural and personal knowledge to do that? See the thread linked above for a detailed discussion.

I would say that minimalism is technically easier than ERE and thus should be more achievable for a person of meager means. You don't need to learn a lot of skills to be a minimalist. You just need to not have a bunch of stuff and not want a bunch of stuff. I don't see why being poor precludes you from doing this. There's no rule against spending a bunch of money on your stuff in minimalism, but it's not a requirement either.

In a way this gets at what I'm talking about. ERE is about gaining freedom, but it's also about DIYing a bunch of stuff, which is sort of a trap. I've seen Jacob struggle with this when he was remodeling his bathroom, which isn't really necessary but will teach you a bunch of DIY skills that will be useful later. But is it worth the opportunity cost? In my mind a minimalist would have avoided this task by either getting a house with a more complete bathroom or just living with the bathroom as is. This is perhaps not the best example, but it's the one time I've seen Jacob, who I consider the master of the web of goals approach, really struggle with whether a project was worth doing or not.

Part of the reason this is interesting to me is because I'm struggling with this myself. I really miss living in an apartment and not having to fix shit that I am terrible at fixing, but I feel like I should be grateful for the opportunity to learn how to do this stuff (house also makes me $$ through air bnb). On the other hand there is a real time cost to learning how to do all of this shit, unless you get to specifically pick what you learn. For example I am also learning to play the drums. In my old specialist way of thinking this is a waste of time because I am already a good guitar player and I should spend time getting to great. However, I'm really enjoying playing the drums and I think it will help my understanding as a musician more generally.

As I said before, I think the minimalist vs. ERE mentalities are parallel to the generalist vs. specialist mentalities. If you are minimizing activities you are likely specializing. At what point is being a generalist to general? At what point are possessions/ thoughts/ activities/ obligations to minimized.

@Jason: Maybe you are that douche?

iopsi
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by iopsi » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:30 am

ERE and minimalism are not the same thing, but the latter can help with the former.
The less wants and needs you have, the easier it is to meet them with the web of goals/systems-theory approach.

There is also a point where there are too many wants and it is no longer possible (or realistic) to meet them with the ERE approach, so i would say that a certain amount of minimalism is intrinsic in ERE.
Even from an ecological/ethical view, some level of minimalism is needed since there are almost no needs/wants that are carbon-neutral (in the current economy at least).

With less stuff, you can go ERE faster and with less complexity.

While Jacob might be the quintessential ERE example, the quintessential minimalist might be someone like Thoreau (extreme reduction of wants, "to front only the essential facts of life").

7Wannabe5
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Dec 14, 2018 6:54 pm

What if somebody started from absolute scratch, like the Primitive Technology Guy or the How to Make Everything Guy, and ended up with some sort of moderately highly developed collection of stuff in their compound? Would they still be considered a minimalist?

I'm going through one of my minimalist phases, mostly because I don't know where I want to land, but I actually would kind of like to own a junkyard someday, so I don't really consider myself to be a minimalist.

prognastat
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Re: ERE vs Minimalism

Post by prognastat » Fri Dec 14, 2018 7:41 pm

Well in that case you could always go the MMM route and say that's business clutter and that outside of the business in your personal life you are living very minimalist.

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