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.

Sri Lankan elites crave “normality” post Tamil massacres

The significance of the Galle Literary Festival statement that I signed recently is now clear; it’s caused massive debate at the event itself and forced the question of Colombo’s appalling human rights record to the fore:

During a lunchtime session at the Galle Literary Festival, one isolated-looking teenager sat among the audience.

He watched for a while before getting up and joining his mother standing at the back.

They were the 16-year-old son and the wife of Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist-come-cartoonist missing since 24 January 2010.

They visited the annual festival to lobby its participants on his plight – a plight which has inspired some to call for a festival boycott and provoked a debate in Sri Lanka.

Mr Eknaligoda, who had written articles critical of the government, was apparently abducted on his way home from the office and has not been seen since.
‘Not given chance’

After the session, Sandhya and Sanjaya Eknaligoda handed out leaflets to as many people as they could.

In the pamphlets, Sandhya said that her husband – a Sinhalese – worked ceaselessly to expose human rights abuses against minority Tamil civilians during the war against the Tamil Tigers “including the use of chemical weapons against civilian communities by government forces”.

The government denies using such weapons. It also denies any involvement in Mr Eknaligoda’s disappearance but says it has made no progress in investigating it.

The family gave out more leaflets at the festival’s cafe before returning to Colombo.

“I’m not 100% satisfied with our trip to Galle as I expected to speak to the whole crowd, at least for five minutes,” Sandhya Eknaligoda told the BBC.

“We were not given a chance to do that. But we did manage to give out leaflets, and I’m happy we spread some awareness at least.”

Two groups – the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Berlin-based exile group Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) – urged writers to stay away from the Galle festival because, they said, many writers in Sri Lanka were being attacked, threatened or intimidated because of what they wrote.

The government, however, denies victimising journalists.

Mrs Eknaligoda said it was up to individuals whether or not they turned up.

She felt that a total boycott might have helped highlight human rights issues but hoped that those attending would intervene in her husband’s case, seeking more information or getting their governments to do so.
‘Legitimising status quo’

During the festival in the quaint 17th century fort town, there has been much talk about the call to boycott.

Dozens of writers had to make a quick decision on whether to pull out.

The only one who did so explicitly heeding the stayaway message was South Africa’s Damon Galgut.

Canada’s Lawrence Hill addressed an audience on his novel that draws on his own father’s ancestry as a slave in America.

“It’s shocking what has happened to this disappeared journalist and so many other people who died or were made to disappear during the war or after,” Mr Hill told the BBC.

But he decided to support the festival as he believed it was a forum for free speech.

He thought he could fulfil the family’s request that he return home and “spread word of these abuses and speak about them with a little more authority and credibility, having been here”.

But the organisations calling for a stayaway say that having so many renowned authors in Sri Lanka will sustain the government’s message that all is well in the country – something they say is not the case.

If they “failed to express their concerns about the precarious conditions faced by the fellow writers and journalists… it simply legitimises the status quo,” the JDS said last week.
Political overtones

The festival’s founder, Geoffrey Dobbs from Britain, said he “really sympathised” with Mrs Eknaligoda and the criticisms of the human rights situation.

But, he said, the problems would not be solved through “a call to go to the barricades and shut down an event”.

“I think what the festival does is it does promote discussion,” he told BBC News.

Some, though by no means all, of the festival events had political overtones.

Sri Lankan poet Vivimarie Vanderpoorten read from her works, including a horrified reaction to the still unsolved killing of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunga.

In a further discussion, three Sri Lankans read from their own novels, highlighting the events of July 1983 in Colombo when Tamils were burnt to death because of their ethnicity.

There was an airing of topics and opinions that often fail to get publicity in Sri Lanka – a country where meetings or seminars regularly get cancelled either by the authorities or by organisers, fearing a negative reaction from the state.

But this was not a conference and there was never going to be a unified statement of concern of the type that human rights groups might have liked.

A more official view, published in Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times, just wants us human rights campaigners to shut up and enjoy Sri Lanka’s glorious post-war freedoms:

For 30 years the country went through a kind of hell and endured untold economic and cultural deprivation. Now, with things looking up, we need all the friendly input we can get from well-meaning outsiders. Let the writers and the artists and the goodwill ambassadors come here and brighten up our lives, for Heaven’s sake. We have had enough dark days as it is.

no comments – be the first ↪