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

Uncivilisation, 19-21 August 2011. See you there?

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 23rd, 2011

As regular readers will know, I am an admirer of the Dark Mountain Project – fellow adventurers in uncovering and reshaping the cultural stories that define us and guide our behaviour. Their manifesto is well worth a read.

So I have accepted this contribution from Dougald Hine, one of the co-founders, as my second ever guest post (the first remains one of my favourite moments of Dark Optimism). It was originally written for the Transition Network site, and we hope it will encourage you to join us at the Uncivilisation festival in a month’s time. I was at the first one last year, and it was a febrile, fertile space, pregnant with possibilities and realism. Hopefully I’ll see you some of you at the second instalment. Over to Dougald:

How do you describe a festival whose contributors range from a poet wielding a scythe, to a former banker talking about the idea of a mortgage strike, to an ex-Wikileaks hacker who’s been rigging up improvised internet services in Afghanistan?

Read more »

Heroes and villains in Copenhagen, and beyond

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 5th, 2010


“Tell everybody
Waitin’ for Superman
That they should try to
Hold on, best they can

He hasn’t dropped them,
Forgot them,
Or anything,
It’s just too heavy for Superman to lift”

~ The Flaming Lips

Read more »

Burn up

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 27th, 2008

Neve Campbell in Burn Up

I have just watched the BBC’s outstanding thriller Burn Up, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Marc Warren, Bradley Whitford and Neve Campbell (trailer available here).

It is a dramatic account of the intrigue, betrayal, sex and violence surrounding characters in the oil industry, international diplomacy and the environmental movement in the build up to the international conference that will decide on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. For those who haven’t yet seen it, be aware that the discussion below the cut contains spoilers. Read more »

Reinventing collapse

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 29th, 2008

Reinventing Collapse

As George Carlin once said, “they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it”.

At the risk of this blog becoming ‘review corner’, that seems the perfect introduction to the book I just finished reading – Dmitry Orlov’s brilliantly enjoyable Reinventing Collapse. This is a true work of dark optimism, with a fair dash of dark humour to boot.

In it, Orlov draws on his experiences of the collapse of the Soviet Union to explore the future American residents like him are likely to face as the effects of the USA’s disastrous economic, energy and foreign policies take hold. Read more »

Lazy politics?

by Shaun Chamberlin on June 22nd, 2008

Blair lazing

I find myself wondering if our current political system (like so much else in our modern culture) might be partially a product of the bonanza of abundant cheap energy we have been enjoying for the last century or two. Have we been so comfortable that the pressure has been off for our decision makers?

Now I am certainly no student of politics, and my musings should be taken with that proviso, but it has always seemed a little strange that there is such a widespread perception of our politicians as incompetent and immoral, and yet they continue to be entrusted with the ultimate decision-making role for our society. There is widespread disinterest among the young people I know, and perhaps part of the reason is that people have ‘learnt’ that it really doesn’t matter how ineffective politicians may be – there still always seems to be water in the tap and food on the table, so surely they must be doing something right? Read more »