Who is Erik
I've been a DIY entrepreneur for 30 years. I've been a cook, a schoolteacher, and a wooden fence builder. Most of my practical experience is related to marketing and e-commerce.
I like to explore ideas, learn about the world, create cool new things, help friends to monetize their projects, climb on rocks and spend more time in nature than among people.
I enjoy organizing events that help to foster the development and nourishment of communities.
I grew up in a town of 100 people in Minnesota farm country. I was the first person in my family to go to college, after dropping out of high school for a year because it felt like a creative prison.
I studied history, politics, leadership, management, educational theory, law and economics in college and graduate school.
Student-Centered Teaching, Ecommerce
After college, my research shifted from the academic to the practical. I rebooted a distance learning program for at-risk high school students. My program offered flexible curriculum that students could complete at their own pace.
My work was successful enough to create net positive revenue for the school district, and helped a lot of students to catch up on credits so they could graduate on time.
I was a proponent of student-centered methods of education, such as those promoted by John Taylor Gatto, Deborah Meier, Wayne Jennings and John Holt. I attended graduate school in Public Administration in the hopes of opening a charter school at some point in the future.
My distance learning program ended when the school district's HR director threatened me over my disability accommodations, and sought to end my employment and my successful & popular program.
My mentor and my friend on the school board who urged me to pursue a career in education both stood silent, so I left education to work on web design, ecommerce and digital marketing.
My primary work of the past 20 years has been helping a traditional Amish community in Minnesota to sell their beautiful handmade furniture online, providing their community with over $15 million in revenue based on a handshake agreement. Most of the profits went to buy farmland for their kids :)
During my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities. I saw a series of doctors and specialists over the course of 10 years to understand and cure my ever-increasing sensitivities to chemicals, allergens and food.
My sensitivities increased substantially after the stress of losing my teaching job, and so I needed to reboot my career. Not having a boss was important to me after my experience with the teaching profession.
After a decade of painful tests and a steep decline in health, the doctor's conclusion was that there was no cure and my sensitivities were high enough that I probably wouldn't live much longer. I didn't accept this as an answer, and spent 15 years testing various methods to heal myself via trial and error.
I learned a lot about nutrition, exercise, biorhythms, neurofeedback, mediation, and integrating all of the above into effective self-healing modalities. Each forward step helped me to reclaim more of my life and health, but it was a very difficult road that can be fairly described as tortuous.
In total, I was in some form of emotional and mental fog for 25 years. 4 years of that time were spent in near-complete monastic isolation in the northern Wisconsin forest.
When I was at my sickest, I nearly died several times. The only thing that carried me through was a determination to heal, to improve, to tell the doctors to fuck the fuck off with their fucking drug pushing, and to reclaim my freedom.
I remain sensitive to a variety of things, my sensitivities are still occasionally life threatening. I have little to no trust in modern medicine, my process of self healing involves isolation meditation, neuro-linguistic programming centered on the amygdala, lots of detox-specific vitamins and Chinese tea.
My doctors told me I'd be dead by now, so I'd consider that a win.
I've found that conventional modern wisdom is seldom accurate, and that people tend to get grumpy when you don't believe the same silly ideas that they do.
Silly ideas like modern medicine is a replicable science, that Marbury v Madison was a legitimate use of court power, that capitalism is incompatible with humanitarianism, that public schools are the best way to educate children, that police are trained to protect and serve, that ancient spiritual wisdom cannot be reverse engineered and made practical, that environmental science models are worth more than the paper they're printed on, that people are inherently broken or evil.
Politics and Activism
Starting in my early 20s, I 'did the work' of helping to remedy income and opportunity inequalities.
I won writing awards for my studies on the methodologies of modern neo-fascism and white nationalism, and for interviews and research I conducted trying to understand the effect of the state plowing a major interstate highway through the middle of the African-American Rondo neighborhood in Saint Paul.
I interned at the Minnesota House of Representatives and was very involved with local electoral politics, eventually running a statewide political campaign for the Green Party.
In terms of politics and ideology, I'd describe myself as a far-left anarcho-primitivist.
I believe that many practical solutions to the maladaptations of the modern world can be found by studying how traditional communities solved similar problems.
I also believe that the more our society decentralizes decision-making and authority the better it is for development of our natural instincts on how to live and act in the world with our fellow human beings.
My basic premise is that powerful non-human actors (both government and corporations) should be limited in size and scope, and religion/faith should not be used as a basis for public policy.
The contrast with libertarianism is that I trust large corporations even less than I trust entrenched government bureaucracies. Governments can be voted out of power. How does one vote Koch Refineries out of power?
The contrast with liberalism is that liberals tend to believe that institutions like public schools can be perfected, given enough time and money (which has not proven to be true in ~120 years of trying to reform and perfect public education).
Modern liberalism has become increasingly confusing to me as its focus on equality of outcomes has increased, and questioning of authority has become controversial.
Authority and expertise don't always translate into competence or common sense, but the people in charge like it better when you accept them at their word.
My grandfather was one of the country's first organic farmers (or at least recognized as such by the agriculture department eggheads). He did this by rejecting modern knowledge, ignoring the advice of government experts who told him to pollute his land with chemical fertilizers, and farming the way his father and grandfather taught him to do.
Dissent, and The Revolution of Lowered Expectations
I wasn't very popular in high school, or in college, until I learned to shut the fuck up about my views on the future.
I saw humanity spinning headlong into an environmental and cultural disaster, I saw broken institution and broken myths where other people saw stability. No one enjoys hearing that their way of life is broken and amounts to a cultural suicide pact.
And so I haven't 'spoken my truth' since I closed down Dissent BBS (Click here for full-sized image), at least not until recently as I've been working on the Mini-Truth podcast.
In our modern world, we promote and follow leaders for whom there is never enough status and gold, never a corner that cannot be cut, never a self-serving lie that goes untold, never a corruption of meaning that cannot be signed off upon.
We scold them when they get caught, but reward their ingenuity with our attention and dollars and votes.
We get angry but we stuff that anger deep inside, unexpressed. The our shitty leaders take that as their cue to become ever more corrupt and shitter.
This unresolved anger leads to ever-more juvenile nihilism as public policy (Idiocracy), cartoon leaders who promise cartoon solutions, the celebration of dishonor and lies, depression over the lack of progress, division, and then more anger.
This process creates a self-reinforcing revolution of lowered expectations.
It's the same basic process that I saw ~30 years ago, that I was called nihilistic for identifying.
It's a form of cultural and environmental self-destruction.
Calico Hills Cleansing
The Path of Most Resistance
Have you noticed that many people get mad at you for not agreeing with their specific interpretation of news and events? They want you to reinforce their ideas, to their tribal specifications, or they'll label you as 'not one of my tribe' and treat you differently. Does this remind you of third grade?
Have you noticed that the loudest voices are the ones that do the least amount of work to fix things? They want you to reify their dreams, to their precise specifications, and they'll shit on you if you deviate from their dreams by 1%.
The easiest thing to do is listen to these loud and very sure-of-themselves voices, to silence your own inner voice, and surrender to the un-wisdom of the crowds.
Change is difficult. It requires strength, bravery and hope.
Change requires doing difficult new things, and sometimes (or often) failing.
Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is pick yourself up off the floor and crawl an inch, after the world has kicked you down.
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to is pick yourself up off the floor and crawl, after you’ve gotten knocked down for the fifteenth time in a row.
Sometimes this requires telling the naysayers and doubters to fuck off -- to disconnect from their poisonous, limiting ideas that they insist you believe in too.
My answer to the vagaries of life lies in existentialism, the creation and reification of dreams from a state of disorder towards a state of beauty/truth.
It also lies in the Buddhist concept of attachment, of not attaching emotion or weight to the actions words and decisions of others. I've found that it is a practice, not a solution :)
(Note: the scar near the center of my forehead is a reminder of how badly my head swelled up the last time I trusted modern medicine to push their drugs into my system. My tetracycline-stained teeth are a lifelong reminder of how doctors tend to prescribe drugs without reading the adverse effect warning labels).