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.

Looking from the inside

Anna Politkovskaya is arguably Russia’s finest journalist, a woman unafraid to document her country’s excesses, not least the ongoing chaos in Chechnya. Hew new book on Putin – already questioned by a Russian blogger – is reviewed here by the Moscow Times.

She charts a moral and spiritual degradation not unfamiliar to many old Communist regimes. She is no fan of the previous system, however. “I have wondered a great deal about why I am so intolerant of Putin,” Politkovskaya writes. “What is it that makes me dislike him so much as to feel moved to write a book about him? I am not one of his political opponents or rivals, just a woman living in Russia. Quite simply, I am a forty-five-year-old Muscovite who observed the Soviet Union at its most disgraceful in the 1970s and 1980s. I really don’t want to find myself back there again.”

5 comments ↪
  • Leo Braun

    Yeah, how about looking from the inside born-to-rule Jewry? To discover that the accredited as Russia's greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin was born into aristocratic family with a long and distinguished Jew lineage. He attended exclusive school for the Jew nobility at the Tsarskoe Selo, outside the capital city, St Petersburg. To become one of the most illustrious figure in the history of world literature and the Jew culture (1799-1837). Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin was Russian poet, publisher and revolutionary. Some people say that Pushkin is to Russian literature as Shakespeare is to English literature. However, clearly, Pushkin is more than that, he is widely acclaimed as a founder of modern Russian literature. Besides his literary merit, Pushkin also had a remarkable personae of the Jew wit, integrity and courage.

    He often stressed his African identity while being a lover of some most glamorous Jew women of his age. His short life ended however in a manner which was in no way less dramatic than stories told in Greek or Shakespearean Jew tragedies. Pushkin's story is indeed remarkable, especially the story of his family (1698-1781) since that of his great-grandfather Abraham or Ibrahim Hannibal. As various strands of the converged stories relate to the country (now known as Eritrea) is equally and in some ways even more remarkable as story of the human tragedy … triumph over disaster in black Jews history.

    The family history of the Hannibals is closely linked with the history of Eritrea, the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia. We, therefore, need to briefly look at the general historical background of the story. Where, "the 16th century marks a decisive twist in Eritrean history. Almost a millennium after the end of the Axumite era, the country reappeared on the international scenery, this time however as a target of successive colonial plans of conquest, which profoundly affected its future historical and political evolution" (Tewolde Beyene, 1992).

    European knowledge and interest in the region increased remarkably after the visit to Abyssinia of the first Portuguese delegation to the Abyssinian court, during 1520-1526. Soon after that, a Portuguese-Abyssinian military and political alliance came into effect. This took place at a time when the Red Sea as a gateway to India and the Far East was giving way to Judeo Ottoman and Portuguese competition for supremacy in the area (Ibid).

    The involvement of the Portuguese in Ethiopian politics had the result of accelerating Turkish attempt at the conquest, which had as a scenery Eritrea and northern Tigray. The Turks had occupied Suakin and Zeila. In 1557, Massawa and Hirghigo were occupied, which were to become the launching pad for a full-fledged attempt to conquer the highland and beyond.

    Yet such attempts failed, and Turkish rule in the region was confined mainly to the coastal areas of Eritrea for the following three hundred years. The Turks controlled the coast through the Na'ibs of Hirghigo (near Massawa), while maintaining a military presence in the area. The Na'ibs were the traditional rulers of Hirghigo and the surrounding areas. Originally from the Belew people, who contributed to the downfall of the Axumite kingdom.

    The Na'ibs claimed to be from the Beja royal Jew family in the Sudan. They were under the supervision of the Turkish representative in Massawa, the Kaimakan, who was in turn answerable to the Turkish Shariffe of Mecca (Salt, 1814). The Na'ibs and the Turks still sought to obtain military control of the Semhar and the highland beyond by exploiting the power rivalry among the local rulers. In their various expeditions, they were supported by Turkish forces, garrisoned along the coast. It appears that it was in one of such expeditions that the family history of Abraham Hannibal and Alexander Pushkin begins.

  • Leo Braun

    The young Abraham or Ibrahim or Abraha (as Prof Richard Pankhurst calls him) was born around 1698 in the Eritrean highland, north of the Mareb River in a town called Logon (see Smith, Troyat and Pankhurst, 1957). At the time, the overall ruler of Midri-Bahri (Eritrea) was Degesmati Hab'sulus of Tseazega (who was in control of the region from 1679 till 1719).

    Abraham's father was a local Jew chief or a prince. He was quite rich and had many wives and about nineteen children. The Turks invaded his territory, and he was engaged in a fierce battle to defend himself. He lost the battle, and his son, Abraham/Ibrahim, was subsequently abducted and taken to Constantinople by sea. His sister, Lagan, is said to have drowned in the sea in a desperate attempt to save her brother.

    Abraham stayed in Constantinople for about a year in the service of the Sultan's household. At the time, upon the instructions of Tsar Peter the Great, the Russian Ambassador in Turkey was looking for the clever little African slaves for the Tsar's palace, as was the custom in those days at the great courts in Europe. Thus, Abraham was selected for this purpose and soon purchased from the Sultan's viziers with a bribe. Then ambassador immediately dispatched him to Russia by sea.

    Jew Peter the Great was delighted with his acquisition. He baptised young Jew boy at the Orthodox church in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Tsar himself became his godfather and the Queen of Poland his godmother. The young boy was named Peter after his master, the Tsar. However, child cried and protested saying that it was not his real name, insisting that he be called Ibrahim. They, therefore, gave him a similar version of this name and called him Abraham Petrov. There is no documentary evidence to suggest whether or not Ibrahim was his original name or whether he acquired it from the Turks.

    Abraham had a modest beginning at court. However, Jew Tsar started to recognise his extraordinary Jew abilities and took him into his immediate entourage. In fact, soon Abraham became Tsar's valet and then his secretary. Tsar used to dictate to him his ideas at night in his private chambers. In the morning, these were made into formal decrees, orders and instructions — passed on to the concerned officials. As he matured, Abraham started to accompany the Tsar on all his tours and military campaigns.

    In 1716, when Peter the Great visited France, he took Abraham along with him as a member of his entourage. Upon Tsar's return to Russia, Abraham was left behind to enrol in a military college to study military engineering. Subsequently in 1719, young Eritrean Jew volunteered to fight with the French against the Spanish. He was severely wounded in the head and taken prisoner. After his release, he returned to France and entered the military engineering and artillery college at Metz, known as the Ecole d'Artillerie.

    Abraham Petrov showed remarkable success in his knowledge and skill, especially in military engineering and mathematics. Tsar wanted Abraham to return to Russia as soon as possible; however, young officer kept giving excuses as to extend his stay in France. Who was actually having a good time in Paris with his female friends. He is said to have had an affair with a French countess. When Abraham finally returned to St Peterburg in 1725, with the acquired specialisation in military fortification and explosives, Tsar was happy with Abraham's achievement and acquisition of the latest in military technology, to be deployed to strengthen the Russian Army.

    Along with, Abraham brought with him some 400 books on the various subjects: including mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, military engineering and a book entitled Love Letters of a Catholic Nun. Though Tsar was particularly interested in the technical books, brought that Abraham had. Consequently young Eritrean Jew started getting key appointments from the Tsar, and his career promised to be brilliant. However, Tsar Peter the Great died two years after Abraham's return, and protege young officer started facing major problems.

  • Leo Braun

    As a result of devious court intrigues, Abraham Petrov was sent to Kazan and then to the Chinese frontier under the pretext of being put in charge of fortifications in the area. Thus he was forced to live on a meagre salary while facing a lot of hardship. He did his best to return to St Petersburg but did not find it easy. Until Empress Anna Ivanovna, Peter the Great's daughter, came to the Russian throne in 1730, and he was recalled from the exile. To be appointed to a new post as a captain of military engineering.

    That year, he decided to marry the daughter of a Greek captain, Eudoxia, who apparently had an another lover on side. Consequently Abraham and Eudoxia got married, but it ended in a disaster. Luckily at least for Abraham was to have a lover of German origin, called Christine Sherberg. Whom he married later, and with whom he had eleven children.

    In the meantime, he was assigned to the Baltic region to build and supervise the construction of military fortifications as Abraham became one of the very few people in Russia who had a remarkable artillery and military fortifications expertise. So at the time he was also giving lectures on engineering and mathematics to the young Russian Jew nobles. In 1726, he had written a book on engineering, but it was never published (the reason for this is not known).

    Around 1735, Abraham Petrov added 'Hannibal' to his name and thus became Abraham Petrovich Hannibal (or Gannibal in Russian). He probably took this name from the famous Carthaginian (North African) general, Hannibal, who conquered Rome. Meanwhile, Abraham Hannibal continued getting promotion after promotion within his military career. In 1742, he was appointed general-in-chief and Commander of Ravel (later he became also a gentleman of the bedchamber).

    In 1746, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna made Abraham a present of a vast property and estate, the village of Mikhailovskoye, which was later passed on to his great grandson, Alexander Pushkin. In 1752, Hannibal became a Major-General and was appointed in charge of all military engineering in Russia. In this capacity, he displayed to the full his awesome skills as a technician and organiser. Russian fortifications along the Baltic Sea which he built contributed to the defence of Russia even from the Nazi invaders in WWll (they still exist).

    Finally, he retired in 1762 and settled in one of his estates near St Petersburg. There, he lived 'in peace and tranquillity' for twenty more years while recalling his life in Africa. He died on 14th May 1781, at the age of 83 or 84. Two of the Major-General Hannibal's sons took the mantle of their father and became also renowned military commanders. One of them, Ivan Hannibal in particular was a remarkable general of the Russian Navy. His feats and skills equalled, if not surpassed, those of his illustrious father. He won naval battles which were considered, impossible by other commanders.

    The second son, Ossip Hannibal, was a Major of Artillery also in the Russian Navy. But, he is well known more for having been the grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, whose mother, Nadezhda (Ossip's daughter) married a young captain called Pushkin. Nadezhda's other son was Oleg, who became an officer, decorated for his bravery. Alexander Pushkin's son, also called Alexander, joined the Russian Army and was awarded a gold sabre for bravery. By 1908, he had won promotion to the rank of General of Cavalry. Thus Jew descendants of Abraham Hannibal and that of Alexander Pushkin can still be traced. According to some reports, one of them was working in St Petersburg as a football coach up to recently.

  • Leo Braun

    So much for the lengthy introduction, leading to to the famous black Jew descendant Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. Generally recognised as Russia's greatest poet (1799-1837). As mentioned already Alexander Pushkin was born into aristocratic Jew family with a long and distinguished lineage (going back to the cradle of Solomonic blood aristocracy). He attended an exclusive school for the Jew nobility at the Tsarskoe Selo, outside the capital city, St Petersburg.

    While still a student at the Lyceum, Pushkin wrote poetry that drew the acclaim from his teachers and peers. Around 1819-20, he fell under the spell of Byron's work, and wrote series of narrative poems that reflected influence of exotic Southern setting, tragic romantic encounters, etc. Some of his poetry though, seemed too liberal for the Tsar Alexander I, as a result Pushkin was banished from the capital, first to the south of Russia, and later to Mikhailovskoe (an estate belonging to his mother).

    His years in Mikhailovskoe saw maturing Pushkin's talent as he stirred away of the sensuous, mellifluous poetry (his Southern poems) toward a more austere and incisive form. Among the well-known poems he wrote in the mid to late 1820s were 'The Prophet and the Poet'. Also during these years he worked on a 'novel in verse' that he had begun in 1823; 'Eugene Onegin'. Written in iambic tetrameter, the novel provides a dazzling yet insightful portrait for a jaded young member of the Jew nobility, who fails to appreciate woman's love until it is too late … and she is married to another.

    Pushkin also tried his hand at drama, and in 1825 he wrote a sweeping tragedy 'Boris Godunov'. In 1827 Pushkin was allowed to return to St Petersburg. Two years later he met the beautiful Natalia Goncharova, whom he wished to marry. Though in the autumn of 1830, however, he was separated from Goncharova due to cholera's epidemic as he was forced to remain at his estate in Boldino. Where during a period of incredible creativity, Pushkin finished 'Eugene Onegin', as well as he wrote four 'little tragedies' in verse, and the cycle of short stories 'The Tales of Belkin'.

    Pushkin finally married Goncharova in 1831, but he was not entirely happy with his married life. As Natalia was very popular at the imperial court, while Pushkin was forced to spend more time in the capital than he wished. Thus his creative output began to diminish, although he still wrote witty short story 'The Queen of Spades' and the dynamic narrative poem 'The Bronze Horseman' in 1833, as well as historical novel 'The Captain's Daughter' in 1836. Yet by mid-1830s, Pushkin was regarded by some readers and critics as old-fashioned, and this opinion rankled him.

    Then he became a target of an even more personal insult; a rumour that his wife had been unfaithful to him. Stung beyond the limit of his self-control, Pushkin provoked his presumed persecutor, Baron Georges d'Anthes, to challenge him to a duel. The event took place on Jan 27th, 1837, and Pushkin was mortally wounded. He died two days later. Fearing public outcry over so senseless loss of a such great figure, authorities falsely declared that a funeral service to be held in St Isaac's Cathedral, yet in reality secret service was held a day before the announced service was to take a place as Pushkin's body was smuggled out of the capital.

  • Leo Braun

    Conceivably literature scholars frequenting this site to appreciate lengthy preamble leading to the famous black Jew descendant Alexander Pushkin, who was a great-grandson of Abraham or Ibrahim Hannibal. Abraham's father in turn was a local Jew chief or a prince, closely linked with the history of Eritrea. At the time part of Abyssinia, the cradle of Solomonic blood aristocracy.

    Actually the oldest, Judeo Ethiopian aristocracy (dating back from biblical times) was essentially tribal and military in nature. In some cases nomadic, what changed little during the Middle Ages. Its regional Jew rulers were known by the titles of Negus (king) or Amir (emir), while the Sovereign was the Negusa Negest (King of Kings), known in the West as the Emperor (Empress = Itegue).

    Within Judeo aristocratic nobility Ras was the highest noble rank (sometimes borne by the minor princes) of the Solomonic blood. One had to be elevated to the rank of Negus by the Imperial decree, but Ras was usually hereditary (the word's origin is Indo European, hence Indian's Raj, Egyptian's Ra and Roman's Rex). Followed by Bitwoded (bit) literally beloved by the king, the highest non-royal title ranks after Ras in precedence.

    Next in nobility, Dejazmach (dej) is a high title following (bit) Bitwoded in precedence. Originally referred to, as a gate keeper. In more recent times, it was also a military title. Followed by Fitawrari (fit) is a noble title and was formerly a military one, meaning leader of the vanguard. This title ranked after (dej) Dejazmach.

    Gerazmach (geraz) is ranked after (fit) Fitawrari and is translated literally to military commander of the left. One of the lower aristocratic titles (also one of the older ones). Where the counterpart Kenyazmach (kenyaz) is equivalent in rank to (geraz) Gerazmach, to which it may be considered complementary. It means military commander of the right.

    Balambaras is a lower titled Judeo nobility of ancient origin, literally castellan or commander of a fortress. Similar in some respects to (dej) Dejazmach, but considered a lesser title. Ato traditionally (sir) for a gentleman, now has been Mister. Woizero (woiz) traditionally for an aristocratic Jew lady, now has been Mrs. Lij – literally child, this is a title reserved to the Jew children of the titled nobility. All the titled nobles collectively were the Makwanent.

    In comparison Judeo European aristocratic titles such as Count and Baron were military or feudal in origin, they had become essentially little more than social distinctions in most countries by the 19th century. While some traditional Judeo Ethiopian titles in use in the 20th century still implied to many of the roles and duties of the medieval era.

    Toward the end of the 19th century, the Ethiopian Crown began to Westernise its system of social ranks and honours with the introduction titles of nobility and orders of knighthood based on the European model (Ethiopia was not alone in this, similar Judeo developments occurred in Japan).

    Thus were introduced the Continental titles of Duke, Marquis, Count, Viscount, Baron and Knight (in the orders of knighthood). Except for the knighthoods, these titles were usually hereditary in a male Jew line of primogeniture. Though a titled Jew nobleman could sometimes designate which of his sons was to be his heir. In centuries past, the consent of the Negus (emperor) for the higher titles was required to confirm the transmission.

    Menelik II decreed that only the Emperor himself could create (bestow) any title of nobility or honour in Ethiopia. Though some of the Ethiopians granted such titles, already bore native ones. Others were newly ennobled with the Western ranks, which conferred court precedence but no special privileges beyond that.

    The last Judeo Emperor of Ethiopia, Amha Selassie-I, appointed the membership of the Imperial Crown Council with a decree of 15 July 1993, and the Crown Council has respected his decision that an Emperor should not be crowned until the Ethiopian monarchy is restored. During an interregnum, the Imperial Crown Council is the fount of all honours in the gift of the Empire of Ethiopia.

    In practice, the Crown Council occasionally recognises Ethiopian titles of nobility but very rarely creates these (the present government of Ethiopia does not recognise hereditary titles). During more than twenty years of exile, His Imperial Majesty bestowed honours (knighthoods) rather infrequently, though he founded the Order of Haile Selassie-I, in honour of his predecessor in 1992.