"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

Welcome to Dark Optimism! – pinned post

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 1st, 1000

It’s been brought to my attention that after over ten years of Dark Optimism, some of the best stuff has got a little buried.

So if you’re new here, let me give you the tour and see what grabs your interest.

I’ll keep this post updated, and if you just want to know about forthcoming events, this one’s for you!

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An idea for Greta Thunberg – how to leverage your power

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 12th, 2020

Greta Thunberg at the UN

I woke this morning with a thought.

It always makes me uncomfortable when I see Greta Thunberg tell a powerful audience – like the UN, above – how ashamed they should be of what they have wrought on our planet, and be met with their rapturous applause.

Do they all imagine she is speaking to someone else in the room? Perhaps they even applaud specifically to make that fact clear to others, or to themselves?

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Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 1st, 2020

Image for 'Surviving the Future: Conversation for Our Time' online course

Update: Due to overwhelming interest, we’ve closed enrolments for ‘Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time’. With over 245 enrolled, we simply don’t feel we can accommodate more. If you missed out, fear not, we will run it again.

And LeanLogic.online remains free access!


This post is an invitation.

After the wonderful success of our rapidly-rearranged-to-online triple launch a fortnight ago – featuring Kate Raworth, Rob Hopkins and Caroline Lucas MP and now viewed over 25,000 times – we’d love you to join us to continue the conversation.

From Monday I will be leading Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time alongside Sterling College’s delightful Philip Ackerman-Leist, joined by Kate, Rob and further stars of The Sequel, as well as other compelling, internationally-renowned guests including Nate Hagens, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Richard Heinberg.

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My coronavirus dilemma – weighing crises against each other?

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 12th, 2020

So, we have a sold-out London event on Monday, launching our film, book and online course. And all week I’ve been agonising – with the others involved – about whether to cancel it or not, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time of writing (Thursday morning) the advice from the UK government and Public Health England is clear. Keep calm and carry on. Cancelling events would be too soon and could even be counterproductive.

And yet advice from analysts I trust and some established medical experts is quite different…

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‘The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?’ March 16th launch events

by Shaun Chamberlin on February 22nd, 2020

A screenshot from my latest newsletter.

Tickets are now on sale (and going fast!) for the launch of our film The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?, with guests Caroline Lucas MP, Kate Raworth and Rob Hopkins joining me and the film’s director Peter Armstrong for an event livestreamed globally by Extinction Rebellion.

Click the screenshot above to read the update in full, or subscribe to receive future newsletters direct to your inbox by clicking here.

A post-doom conversation, with Michael Dowd

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 22nd, 2019

Shaun Chamberlin and Michael Dowd - Post-Doom conversation

When the bestselling theologian Reverend Michael Dowd invited me to open his ‘Post-Doom’ series of interviews on dealing with the widespread foreboding about climate chaos, societal collapse, and ecological ‘doom’, I didn’t imagine how beautifully warm and touching a conversation it would be!

We forged a real connection and it was an absolute pleasure to get to know such an authentic man.

Just click play above, or for a list of topics covered and links to jump straight to them, head through to Youtube and click “Show More” under the video.

Or subscribe there for the full series (also at www.postdoom.com), with confirmed future participants including Joanna Macy, Derrick Jensen, Chris Martenson and David Abram.

Humanity – not just a virus with shoes

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 6th, 2019

As awareness spreads of the ecocidal consequences of our civilisation, I increasingly hear opinions to the effect that humanity is nothing but a plague, a parasite. A virus with shoes…

Disgust at what is unfolding on our planet – yes, clearly driven by human beings – is completely understandable and justified. Yet, speaking as a human being, the ‘virus with shoes hypothesis’ is a depressing viewpoint.

It can even lead to the opinion (frequently expressed by those in favour of burying our heads in the sand) that people concerned about humanity’s impacts should do the world a favour and kill themselves. Indeed, as this hypothesis continues to spread, I don’t doubt that it has contributed to actual suicides.

So it seems worth highlighting that it isn’t true.

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Deep solidarity

by Shaun Chamberlin on April 5th, 2019

Sometimes, like Kant, I’m moved to write by reading something I so profoundly disagree with. Tonight, curiously, I’m moved by a wish for a little less disagreement.

Reading Jeremy Lent’s excellent post What Will You Say To Your Grandchildren? and seeing it so passionately take issue with Jem Bendell’s “dangerously flawed” calls for Deep Adaptation, I just felt deep solidarity with both.

I left a comment on Jeremy’s piece, then thought I’d expand it a little and post it here too, because, in truth, vigorously debating the question of whether it’s all too late is not where I want to see these two outstanding gentlemen spend their potency.

The more critical question – I believe they would both agree – is what to do in these times. And, counter-intuitively and doubtless controversially, I’ve come to believe that the answer to the first question isn’t necessarily central to that. Wendell Berry’s words bear repeating:
“Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success, namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.”

For me, standing in resistance to the system driving mass extinction is not dependent on knowing – or even believing – we might succeed.
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Realists of a larger reality

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 18th, 2019

In 2014 Ursula K. Le Guin accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters with a deliciously powerful speech:

Aware that her time was nearing its end, she declared that her “beautiful reward” was accepted on behalf of, and shared with…

. . . writers of the imagination who, for the last fifty years, watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now. Who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries; the realists of a larger reality.

. . . We live in capitalism; its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.

Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art: the art of words. . . . The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

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Why I’m Rebelling against Extinction (wait, should that really need explaining..?)

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 18th, 2018

Shaun Chamberlin - Dark Optimism - Extinction Rebellion - Blackfriars bridge

I got arrested for the first time in my life this week. And I’m proud of it.

As long-time followers of this blog know, over the past 13 years I’ve tried everything I know to get our society to change its omnicidal course. I’ve written books, co-founded organisations, taught courses, worked in my community, lobbied governments, given talks, participated in grassroots discussion and action…

I’ve failed. We’ve all failed. As a global society we are accelerating towards oblivion, and taking everyone else with us.

And last week, someone said something that stuck with me. That if everyone around you is carrying on like everything’s fine, then no matter how much one reads or understands intellectually about a situation, it’s so difficult not to go along with that. Equally, if you’re somewhere and everyone else starts screaming and running for the exit, then you probably start running for the exit, even if you have no idea what’s going on.

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David Fleming film complete! 😍 The European Parliament discuss his work + audiobook going out via online radio

by Shaun Chamberlin on November 13th, 2018

Screenshot from Nov 18 mailout about David Fleming's legacy

A screenshot from my most exciting update yet on all that’s afoot around David Fleming’s award-winning books and wider legacy!

Including details of the initial exclusive film launch, discussion of the TEQs system he invented at the European Parliament, his work being taught in several universities and an online course, Peter Buffett’s new weekly radio show about the books, an online version of the Dictionary for the Future and much more…

Just click the image above to read the update in full, or subscribe to receive future updates direct to your inbox by clicking here.