"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 16th, 2019

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.

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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A post-doom conversation, with Michael Dowd

by Shaun Chamberlin on August 22nd, 2019

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.

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 on 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.

‘The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?’

by Shaun Chamberlin on July 28th, 2018

This post was originally written by me for the film’s own blog, but I have kindly given myself permission to reproduce it here 😉

As executive producer of The Sequel, I’m proud of what we’ve created, and can’t wait to see the impact it has in the hands of the wonderful Bullfrog Films!

Emerging from a few months of frantic editorial work, we have two exciting pieces of news:

  1. the film is finished! We are absolutely delighted with the final, hour-long creation, and much look forward to hearing what you all think.
  2. …and, happily, it’s not just us who rates it. The ever-impressive Bullfrog Films have had a sneak preview and immediately signed up as our global distributor. Fantastic news!

We are also exploring the possibility of taking on a separate distribution partner for the UK/Europe (contacts welcome!), but utterly thrilled to have such distinguished partners helping bring our work to a wider audience worldwide.

Without doubt this early success owes a huge debt to all of you, both for your input to the finished film and for the enthusiastic sharing that has led to over 4.5 million views for our tasters, like the one above. Thank you.
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Audiobook launch, free books, first film screening, 1st prize at the New York Book Show, Sterling College course…

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 20th, 2018

Screenshot from Mar '18 mailout about the reception for David Fleming's books, including the new audiobook

A bumper update on all that is afoot around the late David Fleming’s books! Including details of the audiobook launched yesterday, winning 1st prize at the New York Book Show, free book possibilities, the first screening of our film, a Sterling College course based around David’s work 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.

Sterling College symposium on David Fleming’s legacy

by Shaun Chamberlin on January 31st, 2018

Sterling College have posted a report on last month’s Surviving the Future symposium, including these wonderful video highlights:

So nourishing to see the impact David Fleming’s work and vision is having on influential thinkers like Peter Buffett, Richard Heinberg and David Bollier!