ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Questions and comments
Hristo Botev
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Hristo Botev »

Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism: https://earlyretirementextreme.com/ecol ... alism.html

I think I spent much of 2020 trying to figure out the idea of this ecologically conscientious consumption; and although I think I "get it" now, I suspect I'll spend 2021 and on trying to figure out how to live it. But this in particular was very, very well said (not surprising):
It is possible to work to produce enough for a life time of ecologically conscientious consumption in just five years. This should be possible for any productive environmentalist that walks the talk.To change and improve a culture we must change the individuals in the culture. To change the individuals we must first change ourself. I am generally opposed to telling people what to do and what not to do be decree. Instead I am trying to show that it is possible by setting example which is hopefully worth emulating.It all starts by reducing one’s ecological footprint.
Also, this struck a chord:
How about I move 20 miles away from the place where I work and my colleague moves 20 miles in the opposite direction. Then we will both build large houses in the middle of the forrest. And we will build roads and cars, and each day we will get into our cars and spend 2 hours each day driving in order to go back to work. We could build an entire economy around this concept and thus create more employment.
We live in a modest townhome complex across the street from our church, which is where our kids go to school, and a 10-minute walk to my office. DW and I are active participants in several relatively healthy communities, including our neighborhood (I'm on the HOA board), our kids' school (we have both spent time on the PTA, among other activities), my church (too many participation roles to list), and within the small but densely populated streetcar suburb where we live (I've served on a couple of strategic planning committees).

Now, there is some overlap between these different communities, especially between the church and the kids' parochial school, naturally, and to a much lesser extent there are a couple other church parishioners who live in our townhome neighborhood, and of course in our broader town. BUT, every day, when I walk my kids to school and then head to the office, I wave at all my friends and acquaintenances who are all doing the same thing (drop kids off, then off to work), but they are doing it by car, some driving in from significant distances to the school, and driving significant distances to get to work. And it makes me sad, because I think of how much stronger my various communities would necessarily be if some small fraction of those folks lived within walking distance of our kids' school and our church, as I do. The result would be that rather than having 4 distinct community groups (neighborhood, church, kids' school, town), those 4 groups would begin to merge into one, making it bullet proof.

I think it's an unfortunate unintended side effect of the modern, industrial, globalized, consumerist, whatever world we live in that these various communities have become so separated (or, if I put on my tin foil hat, perhaps I say that weakening community ties was in fact intended by "them"). There's something that's just not quite right about compartmentalizing all these different aspects of our lives. Also, I'll admit that I'm fully immersed in Wendell Berry's essays right now, and the idea of "real" and local community is definitely one of his consistent themes. And Berry I suspect holds that the wheels started to fall off as soon as we started wholesale removing from the home sphere the kids' education and the family's food production, manufacturing, and income generation.

But, to Jacob's point, all I can do is continue to make better community/ecological-positive choices myself (and I have a LOT of work still to do). Folks comment on the smile they see on my face in the mornings, as I chat up the crossing guards and wave to friends as they drive by, as I breathe in the morning air on my walk to school/work, getting some precious minutes with DD, DS, and DW at my side. Perhaps that's something, as friends in their cars impatiently wait their turn in the car dropoff line at school, with feigned smiles for the teachers waiting on the sidewalks who will be taking custody of their kids for the day, as they stress about which of their 20 different commute route options will get them to their offices on the other side of the metro area in the shortest amount of time this morning.

ETA: From a Wheaton Level perspective, I suspect the home-school folks think the idea of dropping your kids off for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to be educated by others, is absurd; even if those "others" work for the church that is at the center of our lives. It's still a form of outsourcing responsibilities that were really intended to be handled by the parents, or at most by fellow members of a very small and tight community--not by paid employees, many of whom you only know in their roles as your kids' teachers.

eco-anxiety
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:25 pm

Re: Today's auto-populated ERE Blog post

Post by eco-anxiety »

I think this post underscores the heart of ERE and what differentiates it from the FIRE movement. The vast majority of able bodied people can retire early by cutting back on their rampant consumerism, but when you really internalize the destruction that even the socially-prevalent act of owning a car has on the environment you jump to wanting the next level of independence. What I think is interesting about that jump is that it is not necessarily a jump in financial independence but a jump in independence from society. You are distancing yourself from where society has landed on the Wheaton Scale [on average] and that creates friction between yourself and society. Berry/Jacob are advocating that people set up a model of what they want society to look like and then try to draw people towards that model to ultimately influence the direction of society.

I think I was drawn to ERE because of that idealism. But now as I live longer trying to set that positive social example, I don't really find myself influencing people to that new vision of society but alienating myself from more and more people. This pariah effect is obviously somewhat natural but I am struggling to deal with it (especially as I am not FI yet). I think the libertarian-leanings of this movement tend to de-emphasize the communitarian values that are supposed to be built up (as discussed by Berry or David Fleming) as a response to the distance one creates from society. And that is something I struggle with. I don't just want to hoard cash like Scrooge and throw up my middle finger towards all those idiots that want to waste their Christmas bonus on a new car. Ultimately, I want to influence society's direction or more locally my own communities values. It is something I have thought more and more about as the saving money part becomes more automatic.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Today's auto-populated ERE Blog post

Post by jacob »

@eco-anxiety - A few points mostly related to the second paragraph, since I largely agree with the first.

I've followed a couple of different movements along these lines (peak oil, climate change, and lately deep adaption) and even been significantly involved in one of them with peak oil between 2001 and 2005ish.

These movements all see a problem and need to change the world to solve it. The problem is always how?! The way I've come to see based on having seen it done many times is that people tend to promote a solution that reflects their own personal strength/temperament and culture.

Thus if you ask an academic what the solution to climate change is, the answer will be "more education, more information" naively believing that once people have the facts, so to speak, they'll arrive at the same and correct solutions. (Philosophically/psychologically this is called "naive realism").

My experience with peak oil was that outside the group of mainly old engineers with decade-long future time horizons, nobody else wanted to listen. It was simply too depressing for them to hear about. It was preferable to remain uninformed. You see the same attitude in regular politics. For many it's preferable to simply switch off the bad news and deal with the eventual consequences than deal with the depressing onslaught.

With Deep Adaption and Extinction Rebellion and similar modern climate activism, there are a lot of organizers and activists. They, therefore, insist that the solution lies in organizing a community just like the academics insist on educating. While one can certainly organize a crowd to go protesting, "organizing" people in order so they'll live in an entirely new way tends to fail, especially when they still have to pay the bills the old way. (See e.g. most attempts at Transition Towns). Forsooth, there are even people rationalizing why they shouldn't have to do anything whatsoever(*) before community has been organized. In any case, here the template is "organize people", ????, problem solved. I suppose it's because that in the mindset of a politician, it's inconceivable to solve problems on your own.

Indeed, the basic structure is

1) Promote preferred solution method (education, organizing community, ...)
2) ????
3) A fancy new green tech permaculture world where everybody is on their best behavior.

When all you have is a hammer ... the world becomes a nail.

With ERE I wanted to solve #2, the ????. The easiest way here is to start with the individual and the easiest way to get the individual started is to find some carrot (rather than a stick) and the easiest way to do this is if that carrot can be found inside their current framework.

I designed ERE to deal with lack of energy resources. It turns out it works well for climate change as well---this was not on my mind when I started. However, as the saying goes: "If you're prepared for an earth quake, you're prepared for most things". Learning the renaissance methods for the "new world" would liberate large amounts of income and this income could invested in the "old world" and create "FI in the old world".

Thus I had a solution that was attractive in both the new world and the old world.

What I did not really foresee was that many would confuse the means (renaissance, web of goals) with the end (FIRE) and just pick and choose methods or find shortcuts (like a high salary). I consider these case failures. However, they're not 100% failures. It's more on a scale, so maybe 50% failures.

I also intended to punt on the community issue since I don't believe that a "community of noobs" is much better than "noobs alone". ERE skills is like a Swiss Army Knife in that regard and would likely be an asset to such communities when they form. However, I'm otherwise going with (I forget who said it) that "you can not put a group of people in a room and get anything more out of them than you could from the smartest one in the room" when it comes to these problems.

I've tried to build some community via ERE over the years, but so far IRL density has been too low. For now, what we have in terms of community is this forum. Frequent posters can likely presume a significant amount of social capital with the other members.

(*) This type is usually shocked when I point out that the skilled people might deliberately avoid such communities because the total lack of any other preparation than organizing a bunch of people makes them a liability. Or that already existing communities might not invite them until they demonstrate some effort beyond expressing a desire to form a community with others.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Today's auto-populated ERE Blog post

Post by jacob »

I took the liberty of changing the OP title to something more descriptive.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7139
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

As more people become aware, I think there is also a growing tendency towards blaming the producers rather than the consumers. And what is meant by "the producers" is something like the top .01% and/or those who meet in Davos. Kim Stanley Robinson is kind of all over the place in his new novel on the topic, but he pretty much supports this theme.

I was browsing the internet looking at intentional communities and I came across more than one that mentioned transitional town objectives, but they also had minimum buy-in price for smallest housing unit in community at over $300,000 :o

white belt
Posts: 537
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by white belt »

@7Wannabe5

I agree, I’ve seen a lot of this blaming especially on the Left (mostly because a good chunk of the Right doesn’t acknowledge climate change). I think that’s also why you’re seeing a boom in “green” businesses like Tesla.

But I hope that as things like ERE and low consumption lifestyles spread we will gradually see a shift from blaming others to taking action on the individual level. I think someone like Rob Greenfield does a great job of blending individual action with community activism. I also think we need more people showcasing low impact lifestyles on social media, because the reality is that it’s the digital world that millennials and zoomers interact with most.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by jacob »

As always expect humans to look for a minority out-group to shift the entire blame towards in order to avoid questioning their own behavior/contribution to the problem. E.g. "I don't need to do anything to reduce my personal consumption because the top 50 biggest corporations do most the damage".

In people's minds, "personal behavior" and "political solutions" are two different boxes that don't mentally connect. The fact that those making these statements are likely the end-consumers of the very products of these corporations make goes unseen. I don't even think it's a case of denial. It's just two mental boxes. If you want an example on the Right, it's the subset who simultaneously complain about paying government taxes (box1) and not getting bigger or timely stimulus checks (box2).

Tying theory together with personal behavior is difficult because it requires complexity comprehension skills AND the willingness to personally own the problem. This Venn overlap is rare. Compartmentalizing is much easier.

In short, it's not uncommon to NOT have an ideological or theoretical framework that ties all the boxes together as opposed to just have separate boxes for everything(*). Even if such a framework exists, it's very very common to mentally exclude oneself thinking oneself a special case impervious to the conclusions of that framework+boxes. An example of someone with a framework who has excluded themselves from the conclusion would be a statement like "I've known that climate change was a serious problem and I've worked on it for many years, but I never thought I would personally experience the consequences" after their house burned down.

(*) This might initially be very hard to grok, especially for INTJs who started building their mental frameworks at a very young age. However, a good analogy might be how many here have created detailed spreadsheets for every possible financial contingency complete with double entry error checks ... whereas a lot of people still use the shoebox accounting method for their small business.

Scott 2
Posts: 1812
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Scott 2 »

@Hristo Botev - My experience with large systems is that complexity necessitates loose coupling. I think that is the argument against consolidation of your communities. What happens when problems arise? What if the community decides _you_ are the problem?

I would agree that strong community could provide a greater upside - provided membership strategy aligns with your values AND they drift together over time. For me personally - I am more interested in minimizing downside risk than capturing the high upside.


@Jacob - High salary ERE failure checking in. I think you are under-estimating impact of deflecting my group into a FIRE path. The salary was already going to happen. Reigning it in with FIRE eliminates an especially bad actor from the system. My peers foster ecologically egregious behaviors. Giant homes. More cars than people. Weekly flights. I know someone who built a 6 figure outdoor swimming pool, then decided to heat it through the midwestern winter.

I've not found full ERE behaviors compatible with sustaining a high salary. However - it is possible you catch those deflected to FIRE during their draw down. Depending how that directs their consolidated resources, it may more than recover the failure state.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by jacob »

@Scott2 - Yeah, from a "global damage" perspective, the general "FIRE movement" is doing more by turning one 100k spender into a 50k spender that I do turning four 20k spenders (seems to be the 90% percentile here) into 10k spenders. From an S-curve perspective, you get more bang for the buck by focusing on the highest spending demographic (number of people x consumption). The law of diminishing returns definitely applies to ERE from that perspective focusing on people who are already doing pretty good (frugaly speaking) and dialing it up yet another notch.

However, from a "personal damage" perspective, the 1.2M/50k FIRE salaryman retains the risk of single-point systems failure from losing the principal and not being able to make 50k/year during a severe economic downturn/descent.

As for my strategy in spreading the word, I see it as inspiring/teaching the lieutenants rather than the soldiers. Starting at a high Wheaton level is a way of leveraging the message. If you can influence e.g. 10 people at the next level below who in turn can influence 10 at the level below then the reach becomes quite large 7 levels down. It's more subtle that way but not much less effective---kinda like being the one writing the economics textbook that guide the way politicians think rather than being the king.

Of course I have to feel some frustration that the message gets diluted as it travels down and outwards from the source ... but something is better than nothing. If the original message has been reduced to the factoids that it's savings rate and not 1M that determines ER and that ER is "financial income > spending" and not "age > 40" at the lowest level, so be it.

I note I caught a material number from COVID in the spring as people were suddenly forced to rely on themselves instead of their stash. It's like the whole forum just jumped a Wheaton level and never looked back.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7139
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Since the median per capita income in the U.S. is just over $30k, in theory there could be a lot more total benefit from moving people from $30 or $20 to $10. The 10%, 1%, or .01% ers do offer more egregious and/or hypocritical* examples, but moving the bulk of the true middle class in developed realms and the bulk of those just moving towards this level globally is IMO much more difficult challenge.

*Due to fact that tendency to start feeling like you can “afford” to concern yourself with environmental issues only kicks in around level of $40,000 income per capita ( give or take for cultural capital as typified by brokeazz grad student or artist.) This is compounded by fact that those with $40,000 per capita income may also strongly confirm $12,000 per capita as poverty level.

This is why even though the math is much more difficult energy flow reduction per capita might be easier political sell than spending reduction per capita.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by AxelHeyst »

jacob wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 1:08 pm
I note I caught a material number from COVID in the spring as people were suddenly forced to rely on themselves instead of their stash. It's like the whole forum just jumped a Wheaton level and never looked back.
It will be interesting to see if the future pans out in a JMG long descent stepwise fashion (crisis > normalization > crisis > normalization > etc) if the forum WL continues to jump accordingly... and also the impact on overall number of active members correlated to crisis event.

"What we think about when we try not to think about climate change" by Per Espen Stoknes is an interesting look into the psychology of climate change denial. In particular what it did for me was situate >me< (someone who works in sustainability) on the spectrum of climate change denial. It's not just people who claim it's a hoax: it's also people who solve the cognitive dissonance problem of "climate change is real" + "middle-class lifestyles contribute to climate change" with "well my lifestyle doesn't contribute *that* much because I buy organic/pay to plant a tree when I fly to Ecuador/[lame excuse]". In other words, the easiest solution to cognitive dissonance is to change your mind/lie to yourself, not your lifestyle, so that's what most people do.

My personal experience is that it was very difficult for me to see the actionable steps towards conforming my lifestyle, so I did a lot of lying to myself. ERE provided the actionable steps. It's not *just* that it provided the carrot of FI/RE, but also that it removed the heavy cognitive lift that it would have required of me to figure all this stuff out for myself. A year in, it doesn't seem like rocket science, so I'm a bit embarrassed and it occurs to me that I just didn't try trying. (In my defense, being locked in workaholism is a great way to overlook obvious solutions and just not have the life-energy or excess cognitive bandwidth to figure it out for myself...)

Redo
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:30 pm

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Redo »

"It takes only five years of hard work to gather enough investments or claims on products to live an ecologically sustainable life."

I did not agree with this in the book when I first read it, and I still don't agree with this. What if you're working a minimum wage job, or 2 part-time jobs? How many good jobs are out there, especially in this economy? How can you possibly get 200k net worth in 5 years? Even if you saved 100% of your income, you would still be at a little over 100k. What if your parents depend on you financially?

Commodity prices are also expected to rise in the future, which will increase spending.

I also think owning a property/land is almost a necessity:
- With things like Airbnb, and upper-class people driving up property prices, rent will also increase dramatically. I think the next logical thing the government can do to keep the real estate bubble going is to introduce inter-generational 50-year mortgages, because the bubble is never, ever popping. Canada's housing market never crashed in 2008.
- I agree with Michael Burry's comments where he compares the stock market index to CDO's, and the number of side bets people are making on stocks is ridiculous. This will not end well. Land is one of the only real, tangible assets.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by jacob »

@Redo - That's 5 years with a median income of 35k/year, spending $7k, and saving 80%. With a minimum wage job making $14k, spending $7k, and saving 50%, it'll take 17 years. If you have dependents you'll have to fit them in under the $7k or earn more/work longer, since you have to do the work for 2 or even more people.

However, a median wage is available to 50% of the working population (by definition) and minimum wage is available to nearly everyone, so the point is that nearly everyone can do this in 5-17 years with the majority being able to finish around 5 years. Those earning more than median can obviously finish even faster.

User avatar
unemployable
Posts: 631
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by unemployable »

If you can internalize ERE (or vanilla RE) you have the work ethic to escape minimum wage one way or 'tother.

Redo
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2018 2:30 pm

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Redo »

Thanks for the clarification.

"If you can internalize ERE (or vanilla RE) you have the work ethic to escape minimum wage one way or 'tother."

True, but wouldn't that require more education? Which would delay ERE.
I listened to this podcast a while back about how you can retire with a million dollars working a minimum wage job, and the first thing he said is you need to make more money, which seems clickbait to me, even though I agree with him.

Riggerjack
Posts: 3037
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Riggerjack »

True, but wouldn't that require more education?
It could, but only if all other options were closed.

If you read around a bit, this has been hashed out plenty of times, around here.

IIRC, toll booth operator was the fastest identified route from 18 to ERE. No education requirement, not high earning, but not minimum wage, either. ERE in one's 20's, without paying time money or energy into Education.

ERE vs FIRE seems to come down to attitude toward personal consumption. Does your spending need to fit your means, or global means?

One's own means seems to be the default answer.

Few are up to the challenge of living below global productivity/capita.

eco-anxiety
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:25 pm

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by eco-anxiety »

@jacob thanks for your response. I can see you’ve thought a lot about this and think the online community developed here is an important starting point for developing real change, "creating the lieutenants"

On the most superficial level ERE is pointing out that you can increase your personal freedom by saving money. On another level, a lot of people are pursuing ERE so our lifestyles are robust enough not to be affected by a severe market crash, climate-caused mass migration, pandemic, etc. On another level it is saying that one should live an ecologically conscience, non-consumption driven lifestyle (see original post). Different people relate to these three levels differently and they design their own FI journeys accordingly. FIRE folks fall on that first level. Prepper folks fall on that second level. And ERE-truthers fall on the third level. The ERE philosophy is intellectually robust enough that all three groups are welcome and can gain something from it and you see all three groups on this forum.

What is interesting to note is that the first two levels are about adding personal/individual robustness. Not being ridden with debt, avoiding wage-slavery, and being prepared for SHTF scenarios. But I think the third level is different in that it is trying to go beyond just individual robustness and add in community robustness. This is the area that is the least worked through and you have kind of pointed out why in your post. You’ve atomized the problem and hoped that by solving for the individual, an emergent group behavior will/may develop. However, maybe that emergent behavior isn’t going to develop and instead you will just have renaissance skilled ERE-ers that are 40% more likely to survive the apocalypse than the average wage slave. A valuable end regardless. I’m sure a lot of ERE-truthers probably don’t really think that emergent behavior will develop.

I think people prefer focusing on FIRE because they are hedging their bet that an Elon Musk techno-utopia may emerge in the future and it’s going to cost money to get a ticket to mars. In contrast, ERE-truthers may think the more likely scenario is we are stuck with this planet and in order to avoid a world that resembles Cormack’s The Road we better work on creating something resembling Callenbach’s Ecotopia.

Obviously some simplification here but just some thoughts brought about by the discussion and the original ecological capitalism post.

Note: I am not saying ERE should be responsible for that renewed focus on developing community robustness. But ERE maybe hits a meaningful inflection point when there are examples/templates that focus more on level 3. I think Surviving the Future by Fleming is a good starting point.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 13203
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by jacob »

eco-anxiety wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 5:11 pm
However, maybe that emergent behavior isn’t going to develop and instead you will just have renaissance skilled ERE-ers that are 40% more likely to survive the apocalypse than the average wage slave. A valuable end regardless. I’m sure a lot of ERE-truthers probably don’t really think that emergent behavior will develop.
It could also be that 1) it will not develop in time. Or 2) That it will not emerge until some crisis demands it. Or 3) That the self-reliant individuals will actually be resistant towards joining communities.

I think (2) is the more likely one and that emergence will be similar to how those here who had previously been focused on "earning more money because comparative advantage" as a solution realized that the next leveling-up was found by looking orthogonally into developing other skills instead of getting better at their one skill.

Currently many of us are stuck at that level thinking that the solution to problems is to develop even more personal skills ... instead of looking towards other people (community) for those skills. Not sure, if you've been lurking for years or are new here, but there's been attempts to do this for years here going back to the beginning of the forum 10 years ago.

They have mostly failed.

I think the reason is that (1) ERE (and even FIRE) is so rare we simply don't have the density to find each other. (That plus issue 3 above). More importantly, outside the renaissance demographic, most people have zero skills beyond their advanced specialization and equally advanced consumer skills so there's relatively little to be gained by interdependence as well. It would be a very uneven relationship and thus hard to maintain.

Ultimately, insofar it doesn't emergence spontaneously, someone has to drive the creation of it.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 637
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2020 4:55 pm
Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by AxelHeyst »

One path:
First, we were all wage-slave specialists.

Second, we started earning our economic freedom through frugality and wise financial stewardship.

Third, we started learning self-sufficiency skills to decouple our material needs from industrial civilization: gardening, building, fixing, salvaging, and the like.

Fourth, we felt lonely and started looking for friends, and mostly didn't find any, because everyone we meet are wage-slave specialists. We keep to ourselves.

Fifth, the fabric of society starts to tear a bit in a relatively small crisis period, and we notice a few more people adopting frugality practices, and a few frugal people adopting self-sufficiency practices. We still feel pretty isolated.

Sixth, another small crisis hits, and we notice more people adopting self-sufficiency practices. We have a friend or two who we can have some level of conversation with. We hear about a local coop/intentional village, but everyone there is acting from an emotional center of fear and spend most of their time talking about that, and none of them could fix a flat tire except that one guy with dark circles under his eyes who we suspect is a severe codependent. We don't visit again.

Seventh, another small crisis hits, and one of our somewhat self-sufficient friends loses their job, and over homebrew the conversation meanders here and there and they move in while pursuing a green-wizardry-based side hustle and helping with the garden and building an in-law unit out back. We hear about another community that forms and collapses.

Eighth, by this crisis, we don't have any friends who *don't* know how to compost and grow veggies, fix stuff, [max out their tax-advantaged retirement accounts [this example was poorly chosen and proved distracting. best just to ignore it!], or live off of <$10k/yr. There are several studio/shed/shacks in the yard now, and the neighbors on our block all decided to take down our fences so we could more effectively manage our [insert appropriate permaculture word for whatever we'd do there], and we're learning more than we ever thought we would about emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and the importance of *effective* house meetings.

Ninth - we wake up one day and realize we're co-facilitating a lifeboat community of mostly competent post-industrial citizens, even though that wasn't our plan.
Last edited by AxelHeyst on Tue Jan 12, 2021 1:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1288
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: ERE Blog post: Ecological capitalism and consumer capitalism

Post by Hristo Botev »

jacob wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:33 am
Currently many of us are stuck at that level thinking that the solution to problems is to develop even more personal skills ... instead of looking towards other people (community) for those skills. Not sure, if you've been lurking for years or are new here, but there's been attempts to do this for years here going back to the beginning of the forum 10 years ago.

They have mostly failed.
You'll note that my original post was almost entirely community-focused; or, really, more of a lament as to the obstacles specific to where/how I live that are preventing stronger and more multi-faceted community bonds, as opposed to what are largely compartmentalized communities. Regarding ERE-specific communities, and prior efforts to form such communities, I wonder if the most obvious problem is that ERE itself isn't sufficiently transcendent to structure a community around. Or, at a minimum, it's too me-focused, at least at the practical, everyday concerns level--I "get" that as a philosophy it's very much motivated by non-"me" considerations (e.g., resource depletion and climate change affecting future generations).

I don't know that you actually can form a robust, complete, and enduring community around something like ERE (or, for that matter, something like permaculture). It's a wonderful (and perhaps ultimately necessary) way of looking at the world, and of living--a practical philosophy; but it's not a reason for existence. And I tend to think that it's the latter (family, place, culture, religion or at least some sort of focus on the transcendent) that forms the basis for a community that extends beyond this wonderful online forum.

I.e., ERE perhaps answers the how; not the why.

I may be way, way wrong here; admittedly this isn't something I've looked into outside of reading things that already support my particular worldview. But, my experience of aspiring to be an ERE lieutenant (well, perhaps an ensign) has been to both seek out and influence those sorts of "real" communities--based on family/place/religion--that are compatible with ERE principles. This of course starts with my family, but it extends to my neighborhood, church, fraternal organizations, etc. These communities aren't intentional in the form of, well, we need an electrician, a plumber, a permaculturist, a carpenter, etc. (a weapons specialist--ha!) BUT, my limited experience thus far has been that when you seek out ERE-compatible (or congruent) communities, the interdependence kind of happens to some extent naturally.

The ERE principles infuse those real-life, "actual" communities; but I'm not sure you can structure a community (beyond an information/anecdote sharing, learning community like this forum) around ERE.
Last edited by Hristo Botev on Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Post Reply