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.

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 to reconcile black and white relations in Australia

My weekly Guardian column:

The humidity in Darwin slows everything down. Although it’s currently dry season, the temperature is still in the mid 30s and warm breezes linger late into the night.

The city, which sits at the top end of Australia, is troubled by excessive violence and alcohol abuse. The Northern Territory has one of thehighest rates of incarceration in Australia, particularly for Aboriginal men. An adult in the NT is close to eight times more likely to be in jail than an individual in the Australian Capital Territory.

I was invited to Darwin’s Wordstorm writer’s festival last week, and spent far more time listening than talking. I was warmly welcomed and attended many events where the gulf between white and black Australia was discussed. The proximity of both peoples in a small population forces daily interactions. None of this guarantees harmony, of course, as a piece by anthropologist Evelyn Enduatta on Darwin’s stark yet normalised racism recently highlighted.

In the south of the country, where I live, Aboriginal Australia can often seem abstract or removed from daily life. Most Australians never knowingly encounter an Aboriginal person. My major relationship with Indigenous communities was writing about the ultimately successful campaign in western Australia against a proposed onshore, Woodside gas plant at James Price Point. I spent time there and supported the Aboriginal groups and environmental activists who argued the plan was ill-conceived, and would not benefit those most in need of economic support.

In Darwin last week, on a panel titled, “Is home where the heart is? Can we all belong to this land?”, author and Miles Franklin finalist Alexis Wright, an Indigenous woman of the Waanyi people from the Gulf of Carpentaria, argued that Australia was far away from reconciling with its original peoples. She had no faith in the political process; Labor, Liberal and the Greens didn’t rate a positive mention.

Wright said that Eddie Mabo, a man from the Torres Strait Islands, had to fight a system that refused to accept Aboriginal ownership or rights over land until the high court in 1992 overturned the concept of Australia being an empty continent when the British arrived in 1788 – “a land without a people for a people without a land”. In Australia, Wright explained, obtaining justice will only come through the courts. It was an admittedly imperfect method of obtaining justice, she conceded, and fellow Indigenous writer Philip McLaren said that the state would simply keep changing the law to stymie any benefits from litigation. “We just have to keep on fighting”, Wright pithily responded.

One of the key themes throughout the festival was the Aboriginal connection to the land, and the whitefellas’ comparative absence of it. Indigenous poet Lionel Fogarty convincingly explained that the concept of ownership and property was foreign to many of his fellow brothers and sisters, and they therefore couldn’t understand why they needed to pay rent on land or even aim to buy it (which most can’t afford, anyway).

This made me reflect on my own sense of home and what it means when I’m Australian, Jewish, German, atheist, anti-Zionist and against nationalism and patriotism of all kinds. I have never felt a deep connection to the natural world or earth and I admire, though not romanticise, those who do. Although I have strong memories and understandings of certain places from different stages of my life, in Australia and globally, I don’t think there’s anywhere I couldn’t live without ever seeing again.

The refusal to accept the Aboriginal connection to land is one of this country’s eternal shames and the Wordstorm literary festival forced me to confront how far away reconciliation is in Australia after a litany of Indigenous writers, poets and authors documented what most of the population don’t see or hear. Their community isn’t defined by alcohol abuse or dysfunction, although that clearly exists – I saw many intoxicated Aboriginal men and women, some with visible mental issues, sprawled on Darwin streets – yet the vibrancy and diversity of Aboriginal Australia is invisible to white Australia.

Whatever reconciliation really means – constitutional recognition of the First Australians or an end to an ever-expanding NT intervention – it wasn’t hard to hear offered solutions and ideas in Darwin that displayed both weariness and enthusiasm. Mainstream politics is unlikely to bring any comfort in the foreseeable future, if ever.

I’ve long believed that white Australia has a moral responsibility to both recognise the attempted genocide against its First Australians and pay reparations. It’s an issue eloquently detailed in the US in this month’s Atlantic cover story by Ta-Nehisi Coates who argues that slavery and institutional racism in America requires state-sponsored compensation.

“More important than any single check cut to any African American”, he writes, “the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”

The writer told Democracy Now last week that there are many ways to imagine reparations being made, including sending cheques to African-Americans who have been affected. He strongly backs atoning for past wrongs because, “you actually can’t understand American history without understanding slavery.” Australia is little different.

Coates says that when a nation, such as the US, implements policies that “disproportionately injure black people…our policies should be structured in such a way that take that into account.” Land, housing and imprisonment discrimination are either addressed immediately or these festering sores will only deepen.

It’s a conversation that Australia desperately needs to begin and yet one that seems incredibly far away. This isn’t about victimhood or putting a hand out for endless welfare because of past wrongs. It’s about recognising profound, historical traumas that continue to do this day.

no comments – be the first ↪