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.

Questioning Sri Lankan cultural events is right moral decision

Following the release this week of a major international statement calling on writers going to Sri Lanka’s Galle Literary Festival to understand the political ramifications of doing so, controversy has exploded.

Here’s the Hindu newspaper:

Organisers of the Galle Literary Festival have ridiculed attempts to portray the festival as one that legitimises repression and asserted that there was nothing political about the festival.

“We certainly believe in freedom of speech. In fact, one of the goals of the festival is to promote freedom of speech,” said Festival Founder Geoffery Dobbs, in response to a question. The festival will be held in the south Sri Lankan city of Galle from January 26 to 30.

The festival curator and writer Shyam Selvadurai described the efforts to discredit the festival as “unfair” and said that the festival did not shirk its responsibility when it came to recent events; it had sessions on the civil war too. “We are not running a carnival for the rich. The festival is a celebration of pluralism, tolerance and multi-culturalism,” he said and wondered if the people who had signed had read what the festival stood for.

On January 19, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, a network of exiled Sri Lankan journalists, announced in the website of RSF the launch of an international appeal. The website said that the appeal had already been signed by Noam Chomsky, Arundathi Roy, Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein and Tariq Ali, asking writers and intellectuals to endorse a campaign for more freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.

RSF and JDS said that they find it highly disturbing that literature is being celebrated in a land where cartoonists, journalists, writers and dissident voices are so often victimised by the current government. The signatories of this appeal ask them to consider this grave situation before deciding to go to the Galle Festival.

“We believe this is not the right time for prominent international writers like you to give legitimacy to the Sri Lankan government’s suppression of free speech by attending a conference that does not in any way push for greater freedom of expression inside that country… We ask you in the great tradition of solidarity that binds writers together everywhere, to stand with your brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who are not allowed to speak out,” the appeal said.

In RSF’s Press Freedom Index, Sri Lanka ranks 158, while India ranks 122.

Personally speaking, it’s always important to challenge the cosy assumptions of any cultural event, many of which want to sideline uncomfortable questions related to politics. Sri Lanka is a brutal police state. What better time to ask what effect holding a writer’s festival will have on Colombo and its global image? As Naomi Klein writes, “boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic“.

Unsurprisingly, Sri Lankan nationalists are displeased with our statement, too.

3 comments ↪
  • For an alternative take, no less partial to the need to hold the SL Govt for its actions, read Responding to a facile appeal: Galle Literary Festival and the freedom of expression.

  • What does Sri Lankan nationalist mean pray?

  • I almost fell off my champagne flute with laughter when I read that statement of Sir Geoffrey Dobbs,' Grand Tunku of Taprobane.

    His 'festival' has never been about good writing and freedom of speech. It was concieved to fill his rented hotels abandoned by guests. The festival organisers are hoteliers without any prior literary affiliation whatsoever and with the single minded objective to fill hotel rooms. Literature came to the rescue when an attempt to copy the notorious tradition of "elephant polo" (from other Asian destinations with similar desperation for room inventory) failed. Publicity seeking writers are perhaps easier to use and handle for that purpose than tortured elephants.

    Oh, and the transparent Dobbs didnt mind using tsunami donations to advance his cause of 'free speech' and then blocking attempts to examine why.

    http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_

    Ask this paragon of free speech what happened at the Ruhunu State Receiving Home for Children in Galle