Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism. He discovers how companies such as G4S, Serco, and Halliburton cash in on or­ganized misery in a hidden world of privatized detention centers, militarized private security, aid profiteering, and destructive mining.

Disaster has become big business. Talking to immigrants stuck in limbo in Britain or visiting immigration centers in America, Loewenstein maps the secret networks formed to help cor­porations bleed what profits they can from economic crisis. He debates with Western contractors in Afghanistan, meets the locals in post-earthquake Haiti, and in Greece finds a country at the mercy of vulture profiteers. In Papua New Guinea, he sees a local commu­nity forced to rebel against predatory resource companies and NGOs.

What emerges through Loewenstein’s re­porting is a dark history of multinational corpo­rations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valu­able commodity. Disaster Capitalism is published by Verso in 2015 and in paperback in January 2017.

Profits_of_doom_cover_350Vulture capitalism has seen the corporation become more powerful than the state, and yet its work is often done by stealth, supported by political and media elites. The result is privatised wars and outsourced detention centres, mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries and struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to witness the reality of this largely hidden world of privatised detention centres, outsourced aid, destructive resource wars and militarized private security. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? Profits of Doom, published in 2013 and released in an updated edition in 2014, challenges the fundamentals of our unsustainable way of life and the money-making imperatives driving it. It is released in an updated edition in 2014.
forgodssakecover Four Australian thinkers come together to ask and answer the big questions, such as: What is the nature of the universe? Doesn't religion cause most of the conflict in the world? And Where do we find hope?   We are introduced to different belief systems – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and to the argument that atheism, like organised religion, has its own compelling logic. And we gain insight into the life events that led each author to their current position.   Jane Caro flirted briefly with spiritual belief, inspired by 19th century literary heroines such as Elizabeth Gaskell and the Bronte sisters. Antony Loewenstein is proudly culturally, yet unconventionally, Jewish. Simon Smart is firmly and resolutely a Christian, but one who has had some of his most profound spiritual moments while surfing. Rachel Woodlock grew up in the alternative embrace of Baha'i belief but became entranced by its older parent religion, Islam.   Provocative, informative and passionately argued, For God's Sakepublished in 2013, encourages us to accept religious differences, but to also challenge more vigorously the beliefs that create discord.  
After Zionism, published in 2012 and 2013 with co-editor Ahmed Moor, brings together some of the world s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.
The 2008 financial crisis opened the door for a bold, progressive social movement. But despite widespread revulsion at economic inequity and political opportunism, after the crash very little has changed. Has the Left failed? What agenda should progressives pursue? And what alternatives do they dare to imagine? Left Turn, published by Melbourne University Press in 2012 and co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, is aimed at the many Australians disillusioned with the political process. It includes passionate and challenging contributions by a diverse range of writers, thinkers and politicians, from Larissa Berendht and Christos Tsiolkas to Guy Rundle and Lee Rhiannon. These essays offer perspectives largely excluded from the mainstream. They offer possibilities for resistance and for a renewed struggle for change.
The Blogging Revolution, released by Melbourne University Press in 2008, is a colourful and revelatory account of bloggers around the globe why live and write under repressive regimes - many of them risking their lives in doing so. Antony Loewenstein's travels take him to private parties in Iran and Egypt, internet cafes in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, to the homes of Cuban dissidents and into newspaper offices in Beijing, where he discovers the ways in which the internet is threatening the ruld of governments. Through first-hand investigations, he reveals the complicity of Western multinationals in assisting the restriction of information in these countries and how bloggers are leading the charge for change. The blogging revolution is a superb examination about the nature of repression in the twenty-first century and the power of brave individuals to overcome it. It was released in an updated edition in 2011, post the Arab revolutions, and an updated Indian print version in 2011.
The best-selling book on the Israel/Palestine conflict, My Israel Question - on Jewish identity, the Zionist lobby, reporting from Palestine and future Middle East directions - was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006. A new, updated edition was released in 2007 (and reprinted again in 2008). The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. Another fully updated, third edition was published in 2009. It was released in all e-book formats in 2011. An updated and translated edition was published in Arabic in 2012.

News bytes

– Read the transcript of the recent debate between Noam Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz. Marvel at the Harvard Law Professor’s inability to acknowledge the reality of the Israeli occupation.

Larry “Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm” David on why he can’t see gay western “Brokeback Mountain”.

– Patrick Cockburn on the year that Iraq fell apart. Unlike many hacks, Cockburn spends much of his year in Iraq and still travels around relatively freely.

– In a rare piece of dissent, the Jerusalem Post publishes an account of settler fanaticism in the occupied territories. Ze’ev Sternhell further expands on these points in Haaretz and concludes that the rule of law is not enforced in the territories. US academic Stephen Zunes explains the double standards when discussing the conflict in the US.

– Despite only receiving around 0.5% of the recent Iraqi vote, fraudster Ahmed Chalabi is once again heading the country’s oil reserves.

– London mayor Ken Livingstone claims that there is no international conspiracy to attack London, but rather groups of disaffected individuals.

– Daniel Pipes thinks the West should educate the Muslim world and suggest it emulate our values. Somehow I suspect Pipes may be disappointed with the reception to such ideas.

– A friendly message to those worried about a “war on Christmas.”

Britain’s chief Rabbi claims there is a “tsunami of anti-Semitism” moving across the world. Using such terminology around the time of the first anniversary of the Asian tsunami shows the hysterical nature of the claim. Secondly, his inability to acknowledge the effect of Israeli brutality on attitudes is telling. While anti-Semitic attacks are slightly on the increase (especially in parts on Europe) the reasons for this are far more complex than the Rabbi dares to tell.

69 comments ↪
  • Edward Mariyani-Squi

    violet said… "If the draconian prescriptions of the written Torah were rendered moot in practical fact by the rabbinic decrees of the oral Torah then what's the point of bringing them up at all except to make a silly tu quo quo argument that has chillingly anti-Semitic overtones?"Orientalists doubt the usual fundamentalist dating and genesis of the oral Torah, arguing that it was progressively developed after, and in response to, the various bits of the written Torah as they were being written. The argument goes that the written Torah, with its sometimes less-than-progressive values, was in fact practised for hundreds of years. I included it simply because I thought it would make a nice contrast to your own appallingly inaccurate statements about sharia law. I didn't realise you weren't really interested in legal developments in monotheism. Sorry."But you are ultimately the source of your own downfall, because as you grudgingly concede, the Tora has been modified"Not "grudgingly" at all. I've very, very pleased about it. (The only thing that disappoints me is that profoundly ignorant fundamentalist Christians don't know such facts.)and the entire point is that Islam has never undergone a similar metamorphosis.I think you need to do a bit of reading. (Just to whet your appetite: one of the core concepts of Islamic jurisprudence is "ijtahid". Have a look, for example, at the four major fiqh/jurisprudential schools of the Sunnis – Hanbali, Shafi'i, Hanafi, and Maliki.)the Arab/Ottoman Turkish world subsequently stagnated for centuries, and failed to undergo anything even remotely equivalent to a process of reformation.I'd agree with that – although this had much to do with the nature of an aging empire, suffering the same fate as aging empires before it, being hastened by its occurrence at a unique time in human history. It's difficult to sheet this home to theology. According to Islamic jurisprudence, if a woman is raped the only way she can prove it is if she can provide 4 male witnesses to the act.Err – I think you've been reading websites that don't really know what they're talking about (in law anyway). It is true that in some places in the world, esp. in rural areas where courts are usually haphazardly organised by farmers rather than properly trained legal scholars, rape is dealt with under the category of "zina", basically meaning "sex outside normal bounds of marriage/relationship laws". A simple injunction, as you describe – the requirement of four witnesses – then follows from [4:15] of the Qur'an. This however, is not regarded as satisfactory by Islamic lawyers because it is not complemented by the "sunnah" (records of Muhammad's advice), "ijma" (scholarly communal consensus) and "qiyas" (analogical reasoning). When this is taken into account, legal opinions by eminent jurists from at least one jurisprudential school must be taken into account (a bit like Common Law precedents). So, for example we find the following precedent from Ibn 'Abd al-Barr in his riveting page-turner, Al-Istidhkâr li Madhhab `Ulamâ' al-Amsâr fîmâ Tadammanahu al-Muwatta' min Ma`ânî al-Ra'î wal-Athâr ("The Memorization of the Doctrine of the Scholars of the World Concerning the Juridical Opinions and the Narrations Found in Mâlik's Muwatta"):"The scholars are unanimously agreed that the rapist is to be subjected to the hadd punishment if there is clear evidence against him that he deserves the hadd punishment, or if he admits to that. Otherwise, he is to be punished (that is, if there is no proof that the hadd punishment for zina may be carried out against him because he does not confess and there are not four witnesses, then the judge may punish him and stipulate a punishment that will deter him and others like him). There is no punishment for the woman if it is true that he forced her and overpowered her."Islamic jurists in the first couple of hundred years of Islamic law engaged in analogical reasoning to elaborate on and refine the criminal concept of rape. To "zina" was added "ightisab" (violation of property, a woman's body being her own property), "haraba" (violent robbery, the robbery of a woman's chastity), and "jirah" (bodily harm). With the addition of these refinements, the requirement that four witnesses be presented as proof of rape was abandoned completely in favour of less strict standard of circumstantial evidence (pretty much the same sort of evidence that is used in relatively recent reforms to Western rape cases – bear in mind these innovations we now have occurred almost a thousand years before in Islamic law). There were other aspects however, that are not present in modern Western law: the victim was obligated to defend herself against her attacker, but if she killed him she was not charged with any crime; the victim was also entitled to compulsory monetary compensation from the rapist for pain and suffering caused.Anything less than a consideration of these issues is a straightforward misapplication of the law. (Here are some brief and easy-to-read comments by Islamic scholars on the topic: Uzma Mazhar, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, and Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Sulaiman.)"In places like your beloved Gaza Strip an act of incest cannot even be made unless it is made by a male relative. That's right — so if a young girl is being raped by her father, her mother cannot make a legal complaint. And yes, this happens."I have no idea whether this is true or not, but you now know that it is a severe crime under Islamic law."Thus you seem to be advancing the curious contention that betrayal can only involve things that are accurate and true."I'm not claiming a logical or analytical relation between betrayal and truth. I am basing it on the fact that the majority of people who attack A.L. usually use cloak-&-dagger metaphors: a 'defector' who has gone over to 'the enemy', a 'traitor' to 'the cause', etc. The cold war language gives the sense that, as a 'defector' and a 'traitor', A.L. is taking the 'secrets' of 'his side' with him for 'the other side' to use to their advantage. (Indeed, in a sense, even though the imagery is over-the-top, if you read his article on the Hanan Ashrawi Affair one does get the distinct feeling that A.L. is giving us a peak at embarrassing truths that we would not ordinarily read about in the good ol' Herald.) Your reference to A.L.'s 'betrayal' fits neatly into this rhetoric. That's why I made the inference I did.AL was recently found to be in commission of a factual error that was so basic and elementary…" Wasn't that a typo? Hardly reputation-impugning material. It makes you look silly when you keep harping on about it. "AL…has proudly cast his lot with that small coterie of radical Leftist Jews who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of something that the overwhelming majority of Australian Jewry holds near and dear."What's that? Zionist ideology? Race-based politico-theology? Surely not the state of Israel. Criticism of the occupation does not equate to the destruction of a nation-state. I think you've been watching too many French films [affect French accent]: "Oh, I spilled my espresso! These delicate droplets of caffeine can only but symbolise my world collapsing in on itself. I now… must die."In their book Jews and Australian Politics, academics Philip Mendes and Geoffrey Braham Levy wrote: "on almost every available measure – visitation, resident relatives, emotional attachment and philanthropy – Israel figures centrally in Australian Jewish identity."I certainly hope they qualified that with "after the 1960s" because, for example, most influential Melbourne Jewish-Australians were openly anti-Zionists because they rejected the racial reductionism that laced the rhetoric of many Israeli Zionists."Thus AL desires to betray the cause of the community from which he has sprung."That's not 'betrayal'. That's just plain old 'opposition'. "But the Jewish community is equally entitled to denounce that betrayal of [read more accurately: 'opposition to'] one of its own of one of its most deeply felt beliefs as treasonous. Free speech cuts both ways, you know.Was that meant to be a revelation? The only people who don't know that free speech about the occupation of Palestine "cuts both ways" are people who have never thought/spoken about the issue.I think you'll find that the only concern on the left of politics is the question over whether there is genuine free speech about the occupation of Palestine. (For the left, 'free speech' is meaningless twaddle if it is not coupled with a fair degree of equality of power between opposing speakers.) How many mainstream newspaper op-ed pieces in Australia have there been that have shown the occupation from the Israeli governments perspective vs. the Palestinian perspective? How many letters to the editor have been rabidly pro-Israeli vs. rabidly (or even just mildly) pro-Palestinian? Why was there a concerted attempt at character assassination of Hanan Ashrawi over the Sydney Peace Prize? Who was Katherine Greiner talking about when she said that "they" would "destroy" the Peace Prize if Ashrawi wasn't dumped? Why do Bondi Torah students have "special seminars" on what to think about the Gaza pull-out, etc. (which basically amount to carefully controlled opinion-forming sessions). Why did Michael Danby attempt to prevent the publication of A.L.'s latest book? When that failed, why did he encourage people to avoid reading its contents? No, the fear is not OF free speech; rather, it is FOR free speech.

  • Wombat

    Edward,A masterful reponse. You have proven that Violet is an ignoramus well and truly out of her depth.The obsession of establishing demarkation lines amongst the right is such a blatant attempt at framing the debate so that they can control it, yet they oiften don't even realise they are doing it. The background into Islamic law was certainly enlightening.

  • violet

    Ed:Yes, ijitihad is a core concept of traditional Islamic jurisprudence. But as Irshad Manji rather convincingly argues in her book The Trouble With Islam, that self-same process of societal stagnation that has afflicted the Islamic Middle East over the past half-millennium has caused ijitihad to be more honoured in the breach than the observance. I'm not trying to sheet home Arab stagnation to Islamic theology, but rather am arguing that the failure of Islam to evolve in a progressive direction is both a symptom and a causal factor. You once again try to minimise the phenomenon of gender oppression in the Islamic Middle East, relegating it to: rural areas where courts are usually haphazardly organised by farmers rather than properly trained legal scholars. But the problems of unpunished rape and honour killings (a pheonomenon that is related to the same pernicious social syndrome) are far more ubiquitous than you maintain.The frequent resort by Pakistani village councils to officially sanctioned rape as a means of resolving disputes is well documented and undeniable. But In Jordan and amongst the Palestinians for example, honour killings are not solely the lot of rural bedouin women, but are tragically common in middle class urban areas as well. And as far as the Sunnah goes, Muhammad married the 6-year old Aisha and consumated his nuptuals when she reached the grand old age of nine. Hardly a "way of the Prophet" that I would want anyone to emulate. But in Pakistan until quite recently, the Islamic lawyers of whom you seem to think so highly have convinced the court to set the formal age of consent at 12-years-old when a father tried to claim his daughter had been raped by a man more than twice her age. And the same holds true in Iran, although as a Shia country different jurisprudential principles apply there. Moreover, a Shariya court in Nigeria last week sentenced a 15-year old girl to 100 lashes. Her crime — being raped by her stepfather. The step father was executed, yes, but in its infinite quiya wisdom and by declaration of ijima consensus, the girl was severely punished as well for the temerity of being overpowered and raped by a bigger, older man, whom she trusted and considered her father.In Gaza and the West Bank a rapist will be freed if he offers to marry his victim. The victim is not consulted, but is then forced into a marriage with her rapist. Article 308 of the Jordanian Penal Code lowers the sentence against the perpetrator if a "legal and correct marriage contract is forged" between him and the victim.Edward, you appear to be consumed with both Islamic pseudo-ideology and ideoogy. While you may think you are knowledgeable by citing a series of different readings, you fail to incorporate into your world view any recognition of what is actually happening out there in the real world. If Islam is being distorted, then who ought to fix it? All of those moderate Muslims who sit on their arses saying nothing? Or perhaps people like you who keep making excuses for rapists and murderers ought to do something? How about it Ed?As far as the AL tergiversation issue goes, sorry Ed, but you clearly accused me of making :non sequiturs about "betrayal" (which, ironically, only make sense if she herself assumes A.L. is telling unpalatable truths).If you want to backtrack now from the proposition that betrayal can only involve things that are accurate and true, that's fine. Just come out and say so. I don't blame you, it was a pretty stupid argument to try and make. AL's gender confusion about Tzipi Livni was NOT merely a typo, and he didn't even make that assertion in his own defence. AL applied the male pronoun he to Livni not once, but twice. And he excused his error, not by claiming to have made a typographical error, but because he was in a hurry. But even someone in a hurry who is minimally conversant in A) Israeli politics and B) basic Hebrew would know that A) the gender of a major player in the Israeli parliamentary scene and B) that the name Tzipi is an abbreviated version of Tzippora an unequivocally female name. So unless you are going to go the Johnny Cash route and start talking about a girl named Sue, AL's error is so fundamental and basic that it demonstrates a breathtaking ignorance of the subject matter upon which he so sententiously opines. And now you demonstrate a breathtaking ignorance of the Australian Jewish community with your assertion that most influential Melbourne Jewish-Australians were openly anti-Zionists because they rejected the racial reductionism that laced the rhetoric of many Israeli Zionists. Pure tripe. Hang around the mainstream Jewish community for a while. Or, if you can't stomach the prospect of that, read Mendes' and Braham Levy's book. Both of these guys are pretty far left in their own right (pun intended) and they aren't happy about the overwhelming support evinced by Australian Jewry for Israel and the Zionist enterprise. But they at least have the honesty to report'em as they see'em, and the data show unequivocally that Australian Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of Zionism. Like many leftists, you seem to find Israel's ethno-religious identity to be offensive. But like most of your fellow travellers, you don't seem to have much to say about the fact that the Palestinian constitution defines the Palestinian state in both ethnic (Arab) and religious (Islamic) terms. And such Arab/Islamic ethno-religious particularism is found in additional constitutions throughout the Middle East. So what is an abomination for the Jewish state of Israel, seems to be just fine and dandy for the Arab/Islamic state of Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, etc…. And this curiously selective sense of outrage calls into question the genuine source of your antipathy towards Israel. Could it be that something other than objective human rights concerns are the true motivator for your desire to see the Jewish state erased from the map while you apparently have no problem at all with ethno-religious particularism in its Arab/Islamic manifestations?

  • Wombat

    Violet,First let me say that I underestimated you knowledge of Islamic law and I appologise for that. I am most impressed with your awareness, though not entrily convinced of your arguments.violet said…“AL's error is so fundamental and basic that it demonstrates a breathtaking ignorance of the subject matter upon which he so sententiously opines.”Breathtaking ignorance? Is this not a tad melodramatic? You have no shame Violet. You have so few facts to go AL on that you are milking this one issue for all it’s worth. violet said…“But they at least have the honesty to report'em as they see'em, and the data show unequivocally that Australian Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of Zionism.”As it happens, I have persoanlyl spent a lot of time in the company of Jewish people, many of whom I am proud to call my friends. While there is no denying the obligatory requirement to declare undying loyalty to Israel in the company of others, in more personal discussions, many have been quite open about their distaste for Zionism.Of course, you failed to address Edwards point about Bondi Torah students having "special seminars" on what to think about the Gaza pull-out. If that’s not mind programming form an early age, I don’t know what is.Your did indeed make simplistic references to betrayal, and seem to be of the mind that having an opinion that strays from the status quo or questioning Zionism is a blight on the character of AL. You evidently are not a fan of independent thought.violet said…"Like many leftists, you seem to find Israel's ethno-religious identity to be offensive. But like most of your fellow travellers, you don't seem to have much to say about the fact that the Palestinian constitution defines the Palestinian state in both ethnic (Arab) and religious (Islamic) terms."Yet another straw man argument. Your modus operandi is so blatantly obvious Violet. Have you read anyone here express their distaste at Israel’s ethno-religious identity? I doubt it becasue I certaionyl have not expressed any such ideas and I have yet to read a post of such a nature. That’s why there is nothing say about Arab/Islamic ethno-religious particularities found in additional constitutions throughout the Middle East. What is unique about Israel, is that it occupies “disputed territories” and guards these territories with a ferocity that inflicts grave human rights violations on the other party. It also continues to do so in the face of international law and countless UN resolutions.violet said…“Could it be that something other than objective human rights concerns are the true motivator for your desire to see the Jewish state erased from the map while you apparently have no problem at all with ethno-religious particularism in its Arab/Islamic manifestations?”You are very Violet. In your distorted reality, criticism of Israel is inextricably linked to a secret desire to see Israel destroyed and that is where fundamentalists like yourself come completely unstuck. You know very well that much of Israel’s conduct in terms of it’s dealings with Israel is indefensible, so you opt for the easier route of consistently framing the issue as some hate filled desire to see harm to Israel, all be it sugar coated as compassion. Tell me, does criticism of China’s human right’s record with respect to Tibbet mean that such critics secretly harbor a desire to see the destruction of mainland China? You also appear to suggest that inactivity on our part to put our bodies on the line for our opinions is somehow evidence of insincerity. Where is it written that the desire to share ideas requires the spilling of blood? As a supporter of the Iraq war, does this mean you should be signing up for the military and be partaking in hostilities in Iraq?If all else fails, you can always go fishing for the fail-safe anti-Semitic slur.

  • Edward Mariyani-Squire

    Ibrahamav said…

    “I have not seen any criticism of China’s human right’s record, with respect to Tibbet, linked to any discussions or desires to see the destruction of mainland China.”

    And here’s the amazing thing Ibby: you won’t find in any of Addamo_01’s or my posts criticism of Israel’s human rights record being linked to a desire to see the destruction of Israel. (That’s because not only is there no de jure relation between the former and the latter – which was Addamo_01’s point – but because, in our cases, there is no de facto link either.)

    Probably best to stay away from this thread Ibby. The adults are playing here.

  • Ibrahamav

    (d)oes criticism of China’s human right’s record with respect to Tibbet mean that such critics secretly harbor a desire to see the destruction of mainland China? I have not seen any criticism of China’s human right’s record, with respect to Tibbet, linked to any discussions or desires to see the destruction of mainland China. But seeing the stupidity in your reasoning over "guards these territories with a ferocity that inflicts grave human rights violations on the other party." it is no wonder your outlook is so ignorant.

  • Ibrahamav

    Sounds like you're full of addamo. Most antisemites are.

  • Wombat

    As always, Telflon Ibby slips out of yet another debate the only way he knows how – with slander.You should have taken Eddie's advice Ibby. This is an adults only thread. Go back to playing in the swamp you came from.

  • Ibrahamav

    Shit! Did I just step in addamo?

  • Wombat

    You must be the first persn I have ever come across that skipped puberty. Nothing else woudl explain your infantile obsession with other people's arses and genitalia.

  • Ibrahamav

    Do you smell a whiff of addamo in the air?

  • Wombat

    I appologies to Violet and Edward for allowing an otherwise interseting thread to degenerate into the gutter.

  • Edward Mariyani-Squi

    Dear Violet,Some responses."I'm not trying to sheet home Arab stagnation to Islamic theology, but rather am arguing that the failure of Islam to evolve in a progressive direction is both a symptom and a causal factor." I think you're conflating two things: Islam as a religion and Middle Eastern and African socio-political entities. I too think there has been societal stagnation – and even regression – in some of these entities. I don't think this has much to do with Islam the religion per se however. I think you'll find stagnation is better attributed to the political structures born out of the colonial and post-colonial messes Europe left behind that press religion into political service. This is not to absolve various political groups in Middle Eastern and African countries – they should be held responsible for their responses to the environments they faced and to the pressures they face today from both the US and Europe."But the problems of unpunished rape and honour killings (a phenomenon that is related to the same pernicious social syndrome) are far more ubiquitous than you maintain." I'm not "maintaining" that. I'm not saying they are uncommon. The implication is in fact the opposite, if anything. Note I said it was predominantly due to relatively uneducated rural populations; well, the majority of populations in these underdeveloped and unevenly developed countries are rural."The frequent resort by Pakistani village councils to officially sanctioned rape as a means of resolving disputes is well documented and undeniable."I can only emphasise that for crimes to go unpunished is a violation of Islamic law (no matter what the jurisprudential school). If a crime does go unpunished and this occurs under the auspices of a supposedly Islamic court, then it is an "Islamic court" only in name – it might as well be called an "anti-Islamic court"."But In Jordan and amongst the Palestinians for example, honour killings are not solely the lot of rural bedouin women, but are tragically common in middle class urban areas as well." Honour killings are pre-Islamic 'pagan' cultural artefacts that are explicitly prohibited under Islamic law (along with others, such as burying female children alive). They exist despite the Islamic influence, not because of it."And as far as the Sunnah goes, Muhammad married the 6-year old Aisha and consummated his nuptials when she reached the grand old age of nine. Hardly a "way of the Prophet" that I would want anyone to emulate." Let's leave aside the issue of the factual accuracy of the ages – Muslim scholars themselves debate this (some say that the ages six and nine do not accord with other recorded facts of Aisha's life which suggest the ages of fifteen and eighteen). (Note there is no debate among any historians that marriage at this age this was an entirely acceptable, normal and commonplace at the time.)The substance of your inference – that from the Sunnah, nine is the age of consummation – is obviously very naive and ignorant (mendacious, perhaps?). The principle drawn from this aspect of the Sunnah is that a female is eligible to freely consent to sex after puberty (that is, when she 'becomes a woman'), not when she is nine (or whatever) years old. Now, one can certainly debate whether Aisha could bear children at nine (although one can't deny that it is possible). The point however, is merely this: it is not the age that is the important feature here; it is that legal scholars, almost universally, have interpreted this, along with other ahadith, as supporting the consummation principle just mentioned above. (I said "almost" because there is a fringe group of fundamentalists who would support your interpretation. They are called "Dhahiris", after a guy named Dawud ibn ‘Ali al-Dhahiri of Isfahan (d.892 AD), who hold to a literalist textual interpretation of the Qur'an and the Hadith and so reject analogical reasoning (so they hold to the following sorts of idiotic deductions: Muhammad rode a camel therefore all Muslims should ride camels; Muhammad forbade urinating in water supplies, but said nothing about defecating in them, therefore defecating in them is acceptable). The only sheiks who don't condemn this sect are their own leaders. They are roundly condemned as uneducated and lazy morons who couldn't be bothered putting in the long hard yards required to learn the methodology of interpretation, the established doctrines of the major schools, the works of the founders of the schools and so on. They are equivalent to the theological primitivism of modern-day evangelical Protestant fundamentalism – all you have to do is read the Qur'an literally; no interpretation, no scholarship, no learning or knowledge is necessary. Your interpretation of this bit of the Sunnah fits with this roundly rejected world-view.)Now, as to this…"But in Pakistan until quite recently, the Islamic lawyers of whom you seem to think so highly have convinced the court to set the formal age of consent at 12-years-old" …the age of consent in the Islamic legal context varies on an individual basis depending on the onset of puberty. The general 'guide-age' obviously also varies depending on knowledge and cultural context of the time and place. It is worth noting that in the cultural context of the time of Muhammad, the notion that the age of consent should depend on physical development and that it should be voluntary, was quite an innovation. The standard at that time and place was the Judaic one (for both Jews and Christians), which stipulated the legal age of consummation was three and betrothal was established by the man having sex with the child (see Mishnah on Niddah 44b of the Talmud). (Orthodoxy modified this over time, although 'betrothal by sex' remained. Today, the last is also advised against by Rabbis, depending on the 'law of the land'.) It is also worth noting that even by 'modern' Western standards, the Islamic view is hardly shocking. In the mid-1800s in the US, the legal age of consummation was 7 years old, and in the late-1800s was lifted to 10. In Europe it was also 10, and in Great Britain it was 12. Interestingly, in the ACT and Victoria, the minimum age is still 10 (provided the partner is between 10 and 12). In China today, it is 14 (with no age restrictions on the partner). And this is all just with respect to the law. There are also cultural forces affecting what is regarded as acceptable. For example, a friend of mine who is a Marinite Catholic, was married off (without her consent) at the age of 13, even though the legal age of consent in Lebanon is 18. When her family took her to the doctor because she wasn't getting pregnant, the Muslim doctor berated them severely for marrying her off before she was 'a woman'. (My friend said although she 'hated Muslims at the time', she regarded this man as her 'saviour'.)"Moreover, a Shariya court in Nigeria last week sentenced a 15-year old girl to 100 lashes. Her crime — being raped by her stepfather." This is a good example of what I was referring to in the previous post about misapplications of the law that don't take into account the legal developments in the concept of rape, instead applying the concept of adultery."Article 308 of the Jordanian Penal Code lowers the sentence against the perpetrator if a "legal and correct marriage contract is forged" between him and the victim."You should note here that the woman must freely consent to this. She is under no obligation to do so legally speaking (I cannot say what the familial pressures, if any, would be however).If you are wondering why the penalty is lowered in such cases, this is because of the influence of early Christianity on Islam. Variability in penalties follow from an ethico-theological general principle derived from the Qur'an – a punishment can be mitigated if the perpetrator of the crime shows genuine remorse and repentance, seeks to make amends and seeks to avoid committing the offence again. Here are the relevant Qur'anic passages showing the general principle (regarding the references: the first number is the chapter, second is the line):Theft:///Now as for the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off the hand of either of them in requital for what they have wrought, as a deterrent ordained by God: for God is almighty and wise. But as for him who repents after having thus done wrong and makes amends, behold, God will accept his repentance: verily, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace (5:38-39).///False, malicious or unsupported accusations of adultery:///And as for those who accuse chaste women [of adultery], and then are unable to produce four witnesses [in support of their accusation], flog them with eighty stripes; and after refuse to accept from them any testimony – since it is they, they that are truly depraved! – excepting [from this interdict] only those who afterwards repent and make amends: for, behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace (24:4-5).///Sexual indecency generally:///And as for those of your women who become guilty of immoral conduct, call upon four among you who have witnessed their guilt; and if these bear witness thereto, confine the guilty women to their houses until death takes them away or God opens for them a way [through repentance]. And punish [thus] both the guilty parties; but if they both repent and mend their ways, leave them alone: for, behold, God is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace (4:15-16).///Killing in general (that is, not restricted to premeditated murder):///O you who have attained faith! Just retribution is ordained for you in cases of killing: the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the woman for the woman. And if something [of his guilt] is remitted to a guilty person by his brother,* this [remission] shall be adhered to with fairness, and restitution to his fellow-man shall be made in a goodly manner. This is an alleviation from your Sustainer, and an act of His grace (2:178).///*Muhammad Asad (the translator here), takes "brother" here to be "familial-in-faith" rather than "blood-familial", as the latter would be pointlessly restrictive. "Edward, you appear to be consumed with both Islamic pseudo-ideology and ideology."I just find Islamic jurisprudence interesting and widely misunderstood. You amply demonstrate that a little superficial knowledge can be worse than no knowledge at all. That's why I choose to avoid a superficial understanding."you fail to incorporate into your world view any recognition of what is actually happening out there in the real world."I agree there are very many serious and inhumane misapplications of the law. I also agree that substantial political reform – democracy, transparent and accountable institutions, human rights legislation – needs to occur in many Muslim-dominated countries (and in some 'Western' countries as well – Australia, for example, could do with human rights legislation). I was addressing Islamic law per se because I thought you would find it interesting to know what it actually says, rather than what corrupted misapplications of it say (those, after all, are very well known). "If Islam is being distorted, then who ought to fix it? All of those moderate Muslims who sit on their arses saying nothing?" The moderate Muslims, as you put it, are not "sitting on their arses". They're struggling away to change inhumane practices, as one would expect. Legal, social and political reform is, alas, slow, boring, unsexy work. It doesn't make for screaming tabloid headlines, fit neatly into a 5 second sound-bite for radio, or provide 'vision' for TV; as for the internet, its websites are located in about 16,235th place in a google-search list. For these reasons, and your general desire to ensure the world fits your ten-gallon hat view of the universe, is why you don't know anything about the struggle. (It's a bit like saying that Reform Jews and those Jews opposed to the inhumane occupation of Palestine are just "sitting on their arses". They too are struggling to end inhumane practices.)"If you want to backtrack now from the proposition that betrayal can only involve things that are accurate and true, that's fine." I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your meaning of "betrayal". What do you mean by betrayal then? Why isn't A.L. just opposed to the Zionist position?"AL's gender confusion about Tzipi Livni was NOT merely a typo" , Let's assume for the sake of argument it is not a typo. Your assertion is that a confusion about "he or she" constitutes this:"a breathtaking ignorance of the subject matter upon which he so sententiously opines"But that is obviously invalid, as any first year student of elementary logic will tell you. Let me give you a nice little example to demonstrate my point.(1) Fredrick von Hayek was a woman.(2) Von Hayek believed that central planning was both inefficient and limited people's freedom.Does the error of (1), which is "so fundamental and basic", negate the truth of (2)? Obviously not. The error in (1) says absolutely nothing about the truth or otherwise of (2). Only a total moron would think otherwise. Only a mendacious individual would pretend to think this in the hope that no-one would notice what an irrational leap of faith it involves. Choose your M: moron or mendacious?"And now you demonstrate a breathtaking ignorance of the Australian Jewish community with your assertion that most influential Melbourne Jewish-Australians were openly anti-Zionists because they rejected the racial reductionism that laced the rhetoric of many Israeli Zionists. Pure tripe."O Violet, all I was doing was repeating what Dan Goldberg, the editor of The Australian Jewish News, said on Radio National's religious programme, "The Ark"! I think you should take up this issue of "breathtaking ignorance of the Australian Jewish community" with this pillar of the Australian Jewish community, not me. "read Mendes' and Braham Levy's book….the data show unequivocally that Australian Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of Zionism. "Since you have a copy, would you be able to provide a few choice quotes about what stalwarts of the Melbourne Jewish community thought about Zionism in the 1950s? That would be nice … and it would surely support your contention that Dan Goldberg is an ignoramus. "Like many leftists, you seem to find Israel's ethno-religious identity to be offensive. But like most of your fellow travellers, you don't seem to have much to say about the fact that the Palestinian constitution defines the Palestinian state in both ethnic (Arab) and religious (Islamic) terms."I prefer states that are not based on racial or religious distinctions – that is, do not accord rights to people based on race or religion (or sexual orientation, gender, or personal beliefs of whatever kind). These rights, including the right to equally and meaningfully participate in free and fair elections, are foundation-stones of a humane society. States that can achieve these things, meet my minimum standards. Simple.As for the Palestinian "state", there is no point commenting on it because it doesn't exist yet. We'll have to wait and see … assuming Israel ever gives up its ambitions over the Occupied Territories. (It's a bit like trying to comment on the "state" of Indonesia in 1945. Initially it looked like it would become an Islamic state … then later it looked like it wouldn't …. then later it looked like it would …. and finally it didn't. Lesson? Wait and see.)"And this curiously selective sense of outrage calls into question the genuine source of your antipathy towards Israel." Leaving aside its function – to slander people when one doesn't have any evidence with which to do the job – the 'Selective Criticism Criterion' is the deadest horse this side of Phar Lap. The 'Selective Criticism Criterion' (SCC) goes like this: an individual should not draw attention to or criticise an immoral act unless one criticises all similar (or indeed different) immoral acts in all other places in the world. If that were the criterion one would have to satisfy, then, because of the sheer number of acts and the limits on resources of a single individual, that would effectively shut down criticism of all immoral acts everywhere. Is that a situation you would find acceptable? I can't imagine so. For example, if you were to criticise a Hamas suicide bombing on the grounds that it was immorally unacceptable, then, by the SCC, Hamas could reply: "But you haven't also criticised all those others questionable acts in the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, Europe (in the past especially), and North and South-East Asia." This would seem to be, judging from the intent of your post, sufficient to de-legitimise anything you had to say about a Hamas suicide bombing. I don't think there is a moral theorist of any standing who argues that one should not criticise an immoral act as being immoral if one has not first criticised other acts. Why do you hold to the contrary?"Could it be that something other than objective human rights concerns are the true motivator for your desire to see the Jewish state erased from the map" Nope. And here's why: I don't "desire to see the Jewish state erased from the map". Simple. All I desire is that the Israeli government to change it's evil foreign policy of occupation to a good foreign policy of non-occupation. Simple. This has absolutely nothing to do with the obliteration of the State of Israel. It all hangs on making a fundamental distinction between a State and its Policies. Believe it or not, these are two entirely different things. For example, the new federal industrial relations legislation is a policy, not the state. If I oppose that policy, it doesn't follow that I am secretly calling for the obliteration of the Commonwealth of Australia. Nor does it follow that if the new industrial relations legislation is in fact replaced that the Commonwealth of Australia will in fact be obliterated. Now apply the same reasoning to Israel's policy of occupation. See what I mean? See how I'm not calling for the destruction of the State of Israel? Simple.What is worrying is that you need to be told this – that is, that you don't seem to be able to make the distinction between a State and its particular changeable policies. This is a worry because it means you are unable to reason on a moral basisabout whatever policies might exist. For example, if Israel's policy is to commit genocide in the Occupied territories, your own conceptual framework compels you to support this (or at least not question it) because to do so would be to call for the obliteration of the entire state. It's a quite disturbing mode of thought, really.

  • Ibrahamav

    "Honour killings are pre-Islamic 'pagan' cultural artefacts that are explicitly prohibited under Islamic law (along with others, such as burying female children alive). They exist despite the Islamic influence, not because of it."After 1400 years, it appears that Islamic law winks at it, rather than actively prohibits it. There seems to be no punishment enacted for it, and without punishment, Islamic influence is actually encouraging it.

  • Edward Mariyani-Squi

    Ibrahamav said… "After 1400 years, it appears that Islamic law winks at it, rather than actively prohibits it."O Ibby, given your lack of knowledge of just about everything and your generalised hatred of just about everyone, do you think anyone takes anything you say seriously?Asking you about Islam is like asking the Pope for procedural advice on how to perform an abortion. You hate it completely and at the same time know absolutely nothing about it.Nonetheless please don't stop writing messages. They bring a little ray of hilarity into each and every thread.

  • Ibrahamav

    Eddie spreading more addamo?

  • neoleftychick

    ALThank you for that transcript; I've been trying to hunt one down since the debate took place.I was absolutely gobsmacked that Chomsky is STILL rehashing his sophomoric misrepresenations and straight-out lies.WHY does anybody take him seriously? He cannot write, he is devious, unethical, and a bore!

  • neoleftychick

    AddamoGiven that the "Palestinian" muslims were PART of the Holocaust and wanted to continue it on the Palestinian Jews, I do not think Jews require excuses.

  • neoleftychick

    VioletI have just read many of your posts today, and allow me to tell you that you are a far better writer, thinker, and human being than AL will ever be. You are correct. He IS an oppoortunist. He seeks fame and wealth on the back of misery and the slow-burning anti-semitism that has gripped Europe over the past decade (actually it has probably never gone away). He, by ommission, applauds and encourages the vile Muslim male rape tsunami that has even reached Australia.A couple of weeks ago, I recounted on this blog my OWN experiences with this phenomenon; I was scoffed at, dismissed, and instead criticised for being a "racist."These people ARE dangerous. But at least we know they are out there now.