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.

How a rich, Jewish man came to define human rights in Russia?

Russia under Putin is an unforgiving place. Impunity is the name of the game.

In this context, a fascinating feature in this week’s New York Times Magazine about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once the country’s richest man, is sobering. Here’s a man who made staggering amounts of money in the post-Communist circus, seemingly had a conversion, discovered human rights and now stands as a quasi-symbol of a broken legal and political system:

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once his country’s richest man, has resided in “gulag lite,” as he calls the Russian penal system under Vladimir Putin, for six years. Since the spring, on most working days he is roused at 6:45 in the morning, surrounded by guards and packed into an armored van for the drive to court. For two hours each way, the man who once supplied 2 percent of the world’s oil crouches in a steel cage measuring 47 by 31 by 20 inches. Convicted of tax evasion and fraud in 2005, Khodorkovsky now faces a fresh set of charges that add up to the supposed theft of $30 billion. In the dark of the van, Khodorkovsky tries to prepare for his trial, replaying in his mind his night reading, the daily stack of documents from his lawyers. But Russia’s most famous prisoner worries too about what would happen if a car slammed into the van. (Collisions are routine in Moscow’s clotted avenues.) “Your chances of making it out alive,” he wrote me one day this summer, “at any speed, are next to none.”

Khodorkovsky (pronounced ko-door-KOFF-skee) has spent more than 2,200 days behind bars. He cannot receive reporters. Yet the ban has brought a revival of a dissident tradition dating back to Ivan Grozny and Prince Andrey Kurbsky in the 16th century: the epistolary exchange. For several months this year, from July until October, Khodorkovsky and I were able to conduct a series of exchanges — as he has done with other correspondents, both foreign and native — filtered through the hands of lawyers (who transcribe his oral replies) and avoiding the eyes of prison officials. In court, he has maintained that he fails to understand the case against him. The new indictment runs 3,487 pages but boils down to a single accusation: that the former C.E.O. of the Yukos oil firm and his deputy, Platon Lebedev, were part of an “organized criminal group” that stole 350 million tons of oil from their company between 1998 to 2003. The tonnage exceeds Yukos’s production during the period in question. If convicted, Khodorkovsky, whose first sentence ends in 2011, could face an additional 22 years in jail.

Even as Putin sought to curb the oligarchs, Khodorkovsky expanded his influence by new means. He brought in American firms like McKinsey and Schlumberger, experts in making the most of oil and profits. He also sought an insurance policy. Nearly a decade ago, he hired APCO, the Washington lobbying firm that employs former ambassadors and Congressmen. But in Putin’s second year in power, Khodorkovsky opened another front, setting up a foundation to support nonprofits and human rights groups. In the months before his arrest, he courted the administration of George W. Bush and power brokers like James Baker. His foundation recruited Henry KissingerLaura Bush, he gave a million dollars to the Library of Congress. He joined the Carlyle Group’s Energy Advisory board, serving alongside Baker, and met — on separate occasions — with the elder Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney. and Lord Rothschild for its board. He financed policy groups in D.C. and human rights activists at home, and to the joy of

Moscow would soon grow famous for operatic oligarchs and Byzantine intrigues, but Khodorkovsky never got caught in a compromising position — never snared at an Alpine resort, a Moscow casino or on a Riviera yacht. Girls, power, even the money, seemed to hold no magic. Where others basked in pomp, he was shy and painfully soft-spoken; you never heard his squeaky voice, a semitone deeper than Mike Tyson’s, at dacha parties for the foreign press, let alone on television. He divorced young but stayed on good terms with his first wife. Inna, his second, he met at the institute. Khodorkovsky was never flashy — he wore jeans and turtlenecks; the family vacationed in Finland — but he radiated the unlikely allure of a muscular technocrat. And yet, even at the top, he seemed adrift, unsure of his role in society. Unlike older Jewish oligarchs, men like Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, who were often animated by old scores to settle, Khodorkovsky did not seem to consider himself an outsider. Lacking a public persona, he came to personify, by default, the revenge of the Soviet geek.

From the beginning, however, an issue has hampered the defense: Khodorkovsky is no classic dissident like Sakharov. As Khodorkovsky built Yukos, the oligarchic standards of the 1990s were maintained: the state bureaucracy and offshore zones were exploited. And in the tumult, as Putin noted recently, there was blood. In 1998, on Khodorkovsky’s birthday, Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk, a Siberian town fed on Yukos oil, who had complained about Yukos’s failure to pay its debts to the town and its workers, was shot dead. Then there was the 2002 disappearance of Sergei Gorin, onetime manager of the Tambov branch of Menatep, and his wife, Olga. To date, their bodies have not been found, but a Moscow court has convicted one of Khodorkovsky’s closest former partners, Leonid Nevzlin, now living in Israel, of ordering their murder. Khodorkovsky, Nevzlin and their lawyers deny any involvement in the crimes.

Khodorkovsky’s arrest divided the human rights community. Many can’t quite embrace an oligarch as a prisoner of conscience. He is a titan who fell from favor, some say, not a dissident physicist or a novelist arrested for a subversive manuscript. Whatever his sins, though, Khodorkovsky was not jailed for breaking the law. His courting of the Bush White House and pursuit of oil partners at home and abroad infuriated the Kremlin. But his gravest error was to challenge Putin. The reason behind his imprisonment, Khodorkovsky claims, “is well known and widely discussed. It was my constant support of opposition parties and the Kremlin’s desire to deprive them of an independent source of financing. As for the more base reason, it was the desire to seize someone else’s efficient company.”

no comments – be the first ↪