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.

The how and why of boycotting a nation like Israel

The Guardian music blog publishes an interesting discussion about the rights, wrongs and issues over musical boycotts (South Africa, Israel etc):

Last week, Elvis Costello became the latest, though probably not the last, musician to pull out of a concert in Israel under pressure from various groups calling for a cultural boycott of the country over its mistreatment of Palestinians. Before him it was Gil Scott-Heron, whose recent London show was disrupted by protesters, and Carlos Santana. But Israel has by no means been struck off the international gig circuit: forthcoming attractions include Elton John, Mark Knopfler, Placebo, and Costello’s wife, Diana Krall. This is largely because there is no official cultural boycott of Israel equivalent to that imposed on South Africa during apartheid. Despite the rhetoric of the pro-boycott lobby, which talks of Israel’s “colonial apartheid”, it remains a matter of individual choice.

A successful boycott requires general consensus on two principles: one, that the cause is just, and two, that a boycott is an effective political tool. In the case of Israel, neither agreement yet exists. Talking to the Jerusalem Post before his U-turn, Costello argued: “The people who call for a boycott of Israel own the narrow view that performing there must be about profit and endorsing the hawkish policy of the government. It’s like never appearing in the US because you didn’t like Bush’s policies or boycotting England because of Margaret Thatcher.”

Costello could not be described as a Zionist hawk, and nor could Gil Scott-Heron. Leonard Cohen attempted to forge a compromise last year, when he donated proceeds from his Tel Aviv show to the Leonard Cohen Fund for Reconciliation, Tolerance and Peace, which helps bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, and scheduled a concert in Ramallah. But the Palestinian authorities nixed the Ramallah show, calling it a phony gesture towards “balance”. Some pro-Palestinian campaigners applauded the cancellation; others regretted the “missed opportunity” to raise awareness.

We are not dealing here with either pro-settlement cheerleading or ignorant greed. These artists decry aspects of Israeli policy without wanting to shun the entire country. As Costello explained on his website: “I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government.” I have traveled to Israel to interview both Jewish and Arabic musicians, and met the kind of liberal Jewish Israelis, such as the rapper Sagol 59, that Costello is talking about. A formal boycott would punish hawk and dove alike. What about another group I met, the Arabic hip-hop trio DAM, who rage against government policy from their home in the Israeli town of Lod? A full, South Africa-style boycott would ban them from playing abroad too.

Boycotts are always blunt tools. South African apartheid remains the most potent example of a successful boycott, but even that was not without complications. Take the example of Paul Simon’s Graceland. A few years after the UN’s 1980 resolution establishing a cultural boycott, Simon traveled to South Africa to record with black musicians. He obeyed the letter of the UN boycott, which governed live performances but not recording sessions, and, he believed, the spirit because he was bringing money and publicity to black musicians, and presenting a more positive image of South African culture to the world.

But he was careless about the politics and refused to seek the ANC’s approval, thus triggering a bitter war of words with anti-apartheid campaigners. Lined up against him were Jerry Dammers (writer of the classic song Nelson Mandela), Billy Bragg and Dali Tambo, son of ANC leader Oliver Tambo. But he was supported by South African exiles, and tireless campaigners, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Graceland was enormously popular among black South Africans and Masekela resented the stringent boycott: “Agencies overseas don’t feel that they have to consult with South Africans while they’re helping them. Like the cultural boycott – nobody approached us, nobody asked us!”

Simon handled the affair badly — “if he had come to us first and discussed this, none of this shit would have happened”, said Dali Tambo — but it exposed the cracks and ambiguities in the boycott. Anyone attending the Graceland revue at the Royal Albert Hall in 1987 experienced the bizarre sensation of passing noisy picket lines (which included the writer of “Nelson Mandela”) in order to hear Hugh Masekela perform the pro-Mandela Bring Him Back Home. The songs had the same message, but the musicians who wrote them were, at least temporarily, on opposing sides.

Last year, Jerry Dammers explained his hardline stance to me: “No matter how much you love South African music, the people who make that music are going to be better off when apartheid is abolished, so the message is solidarity.” But solidarity has its victims. At the same time as the Gracelands furore, the UK Musicians Union, which had maintained a boycott against South Africa since the 1960s, endeavoured to block UK shows by the Malapoets, a group of black Sowetans, and the multiracial Savuka, whose own anti-apartheid record, Asimbonaga, had in fact been banned at home. Once again, people with the same politics were forced to be at each other’s throats.

You might believe that the current Israeli regime is as brutal and unreasonable as Botha’s South Africa, and merits similarly extreme measures. And you might argue that the only way for any performer to protest Israeli policies is to avoid the country completely. But a boycott is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel, and it does not divide people neatly into right and wrong. There will be casualties.

no comments – be the first ↪