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.

Electronic Intifada reviews “After Zionism”

The following piece by Sarah Irving appears this week. As a writer, reviews are a double-edged sword. They’re helpful and interesting but I don’t always agree with their conclusions. This piece is no exception:

After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine is a new collection of essays edited by Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor. It is important to start by saying that this is an important and timely book, a significant contribution to the literature on the one-state/two-state debate and a useful reader on the main arguments and strands of support for one-statism.

However, the book falls into the same, perhaps unavoidable, pitfall as many edited volumes, of a slight sense of incoherency and bolted-togetherness, and connected to this there are some significant gaps.

The book’s blurb says that it “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.”

The former is certainly true; the contributor list includes such names as Ilan Pappe,Ghada KarmiOmar BarghoutiDiana ButtuSaree Makdisi and Sara Roy. There is a good mix of academics, legal/political practitioners, journalists and activists, and also of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals.

Whether the second half of the claim is so true is one of the main problems. After Zionism starts with a fair amount of scene-setting — Ilan Pappe writes about the history of and attitudes within Israel to the Nakba, the 1948 mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. This is a fine chapter in itself, but familiar ground to anyone who’s read his previous work.

Then we get trenchant critiques of the Oslo process, of Israel’s history of cynically undermining any attempts at negotiations, and of the weakness of the Palestinian “leadership,” particularly as revealed by the Palestine Papers. The latter chapters contain a fair amount of repetition — indeed, they could probably have been collapsed into a single section. The same problem accompanies a lengthy discussion of the opinions and activities of American Jewish communities.

Then there is a certain amount of argument and polemic. The best comes from Saree Makdisi, in a spirited romp through the impossibility and injustice of a two-state solution and his perceptions of the under-rated power of the Palestinian position. One might disagree with his analysis, but the book is worth buying just for this joyful, defiant shout, along with Omar Barghouti’s clear, cold evaluation of the need for a “decolonization” process that grants equal rights to all citizens of the new state, while facing its violent colonial past head-on.

But where, then, is the promised “explor[ation of] possible forms of a one-state solution”? It is there, sort of, but because of the structure of the volume, it is peppered rather haphazardly through the book. John Mearsheimer demolishes the idea that one-state debates are all about starry-eyed visions of co-existence. He foresees the nightmare twin of the one-state solution that many activists aspire to, believing that “the Palestinians are not going to get their own state any time soon. They will instead end up living in an Apartheid state dominated by Israeli Jews” (136). Along with several other contributors, he believes that there will be a de facto one state, with Israel annexing the West Bank.

The only divergence is on how far there is scope for Palestinians within this new entity to challenge its racist nature and, eventually, turn it into a place in which both Jews and Palestinians can live a just existence. Mearsheimer thinks that a “democratic bi-national state” will be the long-term outcome, but given the untrammelled violence perpetrated by settlers in the West Bank, as well as the Israeli army’s abuses, this is a chilling prospect for the short to medium term.

One of the drawbacks of the book is that there is never any coherent overview of what the different proposals are, or evaluations of how they compare. Some are presented only by their proponents and therefore never subjected to the criticism and scrutiny imposed on the two-state idea — such as Jeff Halper’s “’Two-State Plus’ solution … in which self-determination is disconnected from economic viability. Less elegant than the others … it is also far more workable” (125). And, except for Halper’s chapter and to some extent those of Barghouti and Karmi, there is little engagement with the real nitty-gritty of what a one-state solution might actually look like, and how it might be implemented.

It would also have been nice to have a little pre-Oslo historical background to the one-state idea. There are passing references -– including in Ahmed Moor’s introductory piece (11) — to the fact that, until the late 1970s at least, some form of one-state solution was the norm amongst most Palestinian movements. An overview of those visions, and why they were sidelined for several decades, might shed light on current attitudes and the challenges one-state campaigners might face.

Finally, more in the way of references would have been useful. A volume like this should serve as a stepping-off point, where the reader can be introduced to new ideas and take their curiosity further. To do that, one needs to know where to go for more information. To take one example, Ahmed Moor’s stylish, broad-brush chapter, for example, contains a multitude of interesting points and citations — but scant direction on where they come from.

Despite its flaws, After Zionism is an important, informative, sometimes inspiring, sometimes infuriating, collection. But it does need to be read as a set of debates, and falls short of being the definitive text it could perhaps have been.

Sarah Irving is a freelance writer. She worked with the International Solidarity Movement in the occupied West Bank in 2001-02 and with Olive Co-op, promoting fair trade Palestinian products and solidarity visits, in 2004-06. She is the author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine and co-author, with Sharyn Lock, of Gaza: Beneath the Bombs.

 

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