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.

Double-take

Noam Chomsky, champion of Israel?

7 comments ↪
  • Glenn Condell

    Ant

    I read a blog called xymphora and he's been all over this. His criticisms of Chomsky sound reasonable to me. Some higlights:

    'The problem with the Israel Lobby thesis for people like Chomsky is that they cannot conceive of a situation where a predominant country would allow things to be run in a way which doesn’t benefit the interests of its elites. Chomsky’s rejection of the Lobby thesis in the face of what has to be considered to be overwhelming evidence entails that his whole view of the world is unfalsifiable, and is thus without real content. It has become clear that Chomsky defines whatever the United States does as being done by and for American elite groups, and thus his thesis is trivial. No evidence can possibly disprove it'

    'Chomsky went out of his way to publish on the matter (he didn’t have to comment on it, and he certainly didn’t have to attack it), thus using his considerable intellectual reputation to provide cover for the Lobby to allow it to continue to do the evil that it does.

    Fine reading of Chomsky shows that there is a long-standing Zionist exception to his criticism of Empire.'

    'I understand why Noam is so popular with what passes for American progressive thought. He lays the criticism of the American Empire on thick, but never actually blames Americans for the problems. It’s always some undefined class or ‘interest’, guys in silk top hats who hang around Wall Street, guys who Noam can never quite put his finger on. If he identified anybody who actually did something, Americans might actually have to do something about it. Noam simultaneously blames dark actors, absolves actual Americans, and lets the left off the hook for actually doing anything. What could be better than that?'

    'Blankfort proves that Chomsky is a closet Zionist. Watching a Chomskowitz ‘debate’ about Israel is like watching a Harlem Globetrotters game. Chomsky will always win, and prove how open-minded Zionists really are by criticizing the details of the ethnic cleansing. Dershowitz plays the Washington Generals and gracefully loses. It’s entertainment in aid of controlling debate. Left unsaid is whether the project of Greater Israel should really be proceeding. Just like the average American, Israel is off the hook for the atrocities as it is all really the work of the evil, but vaguely defined, American Empire. It’s a neat trick, but it is a trick.'

    'Blankfort on Chomsky:

    “He would have us believe that Israel’s occupation and harsh actions against the Palestinians, its invasions and undeclared 40 years war on Lebanon, and its arming of murderous regimes in Central America and Africa during the Cold War, has been done as a client state in the service of US interests. In Chomsky’s world view, that absolves Israel of responsibility and has become standard Chomsky doctrine.”'

    'Continuing my theme that Chomsky’s ill-advised political act in getting into the Lobby debate on the side that protects the Lobby, thus making Chomsky personally and directly responsible for the slo-mo genocide against the Palestinian people (and putting the lie to his entire life’s work: American beating up on Nicaraguan peasant bad; Israeli beating up on Palestinian peasant not so bad, because it is all the American’s fault), I wonder if this summarizes, in a nutshell, the deep problem with Chomskian anti-Americanism. Has anything gotten better since Chomsky started telling us about the problems with the American Empire? No. Everything has gotten much worse. Why? Because Chomsky’s information is directed at vague intangible bad guys that Americans can’t do anything about. Short of revolution, which ain’t gonna happen, how do you wage war against a ‘class’? On the other hand, it you are made aware that there are certain identified people – like, ahem, the Lobby – that are causing the problem, you can actually do something about it.'

    'Chomsky’s bizarre blindness about Israel is starting to look like the pattern of his life’s work. Americans are no more responsible for what happens than are Israelis, as everything is the fault of the American Empire. He provides reams of carefully-edited facts, but the sum total of what he does amounts to what we could call ‘controlled dissent’. He seems to be complaining, but he is no real threat to the Empire, as the only road out left by him is Revolution. Acting on his writings is hopeless, which is why things continue to become worse. Ironically, this criticism of Chomsky is the main political criticism leveled by the left against conspiracy theory.'

    'I could have been harder, in that I blamed his thinking on his Marxist analysis. I’m not suggesting that he is a Marxist, but just that all the main dissenters against the American Empire (Chomsky, Parenti, Cockburn) came out of the intellectual milieu of American socialism, and derive their principles from class analysis (it’s funny how the first wave of American dissenters from Marxism became neocons, and the second wave became what we now think of as the old guard of the American left).'

    'The deep problem with Chomsky’s peculiar and uncharacteristic attitude towards the Israel Lobby is that it undermines his life’s work in attacking American colonialism. One of his main points is that the mainstream media hides the actions of the United States government not so much by lying – although they do that too – but by simply failing to report on the most important crimes committed by the Empire. Chomsky is clearly doing the exact same thing in protecting the Lobby. Right-wing critics of Chomsky claim that he just hates America, and uses rhetorical tricks to put down the United States. Since he doesn’t hesitate to use the same techniques he so roundly criticizes in his efforts to protect the Lobby from criticism, perhaps the right-wing critics are right. The ultimate conspiracy theory would be that Chomsky’s entire opus of attacks on the United States, which started at about the same time as the main push for Israeli colonialism, is just an attempt to hide the only thing he really cares about, the creation of Greater Israel. He’s walking on very thin ice.'

    I'm not au fait enough with the minutiae to go the whole way with this, but I think the point about class based analysis being utterly inadequate in the face of evil being perpetrated by loose coalitions of like-minded individuals and organisations is a telling one.

  • Adam

    No offense, but that's a pretty awful criticism, especially since it doesn't even deal with Chomsky's arguments.

    "It has become clear that Chomsky defines whatever the United States does as being done by and for American elite groups, and thus his thesis is trivial. No evidence can possibly disprove it’"

    If true, it's a conclusion he's arrived at after decades of research. It's not an ideological position he guards at all costs, it's one based on study and reflection. Perhaps xymphora should look at the evidence Chomsky provides elsewhere: in his multiple books about the ME, for example, which cover this quite clearly.

    "‘Chomsky went out of his way to publish on the matter (he didn’t have to comment on it, and he certainly didn’t have to attack it), thus using his considerable intellectual reputation to provide cover for the Lobby to allow it to continue to do the evil that it does."

    Actually his piece was a response to a question someone posed on the ZNet Sustainer's forum. It was taken and posted as a separate piece, but it was originally just a response to someone asking a question. I'm not sure how this "provides cover for the Lobby". Chomsky's quite explicit in condemning the Lobby
    for stifling open debate and for supporting virtually every racist policy imaginable. He just simply doesn't think that they have the control W M think they do. They're a "swing factor," according to Chomsky, serious indeed, but often take a backseat when other American interests are at stake.

    "Fine reading of Chomsky shows that there is a long-standing Zionist exception to his criticism of Empire.’"

    I doubt xymphora has read much by Chomsky, aside from perhaps his piece on the Lobby, based on thsi critique. And again, no non-vacuous evidence provided.

    The rest of the critique continues in much the same manner. The piece by Blankfort is, as always, amusing. Blankfort actually reminds me of Dershowitz in that he can't even approach a debate openly and honestly. Most of the views he abscribes to Chomsky are, of course, not views that Chomsky actually holds.

    Let's just get one thing straight: Chomsky is no friend of the Israel Lobby. He agrees that its supporters are supporting racist, fanatical policies, and are not helping Israel in any way shape or form. He just disagrees that the Lobby plays a significant role in shaping American policy toward Israel. Agree or not, what's the big deal about that?

  • Addamo

    I really donlt see what the big deal is. Chomsky has his beliefs and he is welcome to them. He doesn't actully criticise the paper so much as the conclusions. I tend to agree with Uri Avnery, who maitains that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    There are times when Israeli and big money interests are in agreement and occasions when they are not.

  • Glenn Condell

    'He just disagrees that the Lobby plays a significant role in shaping American policy toward Israel.'

    For such a smart bloke that's a pretty dumb conclusion and flies in the face of the evidence. But yeah, he's entitled to that opinion just as some are entitled to criticise it.

  • Adam

    Glenn, have you looked at the evidence Chomsky provides? When the Lobby disagrees with American policy, they back down. They get when they want only when it's in the interests of American power. It's consistent.

    I'd be happy to look at other evidence, but from what I've seen, Chomsky's certainly correct. M W make the best case they can, but even if the evidence they provide isn't scrutinized, on its face it's pretty unpersuasive.

  • Glenn Condell

    Perhaps it hasn't persuaded you, but I don't need M & W to persuade me. It sticks out like dog's balls. There is virtually no criticism of Israel in Congress, Senate or the major media because people are shit scared of what will happen to them if they don't toe the line. It's unhealthy, and indirectly but signifgicantly affects us COW nations downstream in the Empire. My kids are in greater danger of terrorism as a result of the immoral pro-Israel bias of the US; a saner more balanced approach would reduce that danger.

    MW aren't breaking new ground, they are simply confirming what every non-involved onlooker can see quite clearly.

  • Adam

    Okay, but do realize that you haven't said anything that Chomsky would necessarily disagree with. M W are primarily concerned with our "support" for Israel, which is "harming America's interests". But Chomsky's point is that, as far as standard power politics goes, Israel has acted like an offshore military base and hasn't hurt "us". He certainly agrees that the Lobby is dangerous and so on, but just disagrees that Cheney, for example, is only motivated to defend Israel because of the Lobby.

    The Lobby certainly has some pernicious effects, but they don't drive the decisions of the people in charge. Chomsky has shown that when the Israel Lobby has disagreed with the people in charge, the Lobby loses, and slinks away without a peep.

    Chomsky, and I, both certainly agree that the Lobby is dangerous and the lack of criticism of Israel in intellectual-political circles is disturbing, to say the least. But that doesn't support M W's thesis.

    Noam:
    ">"Regardless the actual influence of the lobby, should it not be exposed and opposed for advocating unjust policies, even if those policies were to be undertaken without their encouragement?"

    Absolutely. That's why I've been devoting a great deal of effort to it for over 40 years, concentrating on the component of the lobby that seems to me the most dangerous: the intellectual-political class, and their remarkable love affair with Israel after its smashing military victory in 1967. Their influence is of course enormous, and I think it's important to expose the massive falsehoods and deceit that envelop this topic — and not this one alone, of course.

    And one should expose any group that advocates unjust policies (the term is a serious understatement, in this case).

    As for the relative significance of the lobby in comparison with other factors that enter into decision-making, that should be recognized to be a subtle matter, as I wrote in an earlier response about this. That's even true when there is a rich documentary record about planning, which we don't have in this case. One thing we can say with fair confidence is that it's hard to take seriously views that are expressed with great confidence about such matters as these, let alone those that are accompanied with tirades and hysterical accusations.

    The question does have implications for activism. Thus if the lobby has enormous power and is acting in ways that harm the interests of power and privilege, then there are implications for activism. If that's true, a high priority should be given to putting on ties and jackets and visiting executive suites to explain to ExxonMobil,
    Intel, Boeing, IBM, etc. that their interests are being harmed by a lobby that they could easily overwhelm if they chose — that is, if we believe that the energy corporations and the rest have some influence in the Bush administration."