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.

Bits and pieces

Are the Americans keeping a body count in Iraq? Despite denying the fact for years – and Tommy Franks, former head of US Central Command, once saying that the US army “don’t do body counts”, a requirement under the Geneva Conventions – murdered humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka claimed in a recent essay that the US are in fact keeping a secret tally of Iraqi dead.

Ruzicka: “The statistics demonstrate that the US military can and does track civilian casualties. Troops on the ground keep these records because they recognise they have a responsibility to review each action taken and that it is in their interest to minimise mistakes, especially since winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is a key component of their strategy.”

***

CNN has a new President. Jonathan Klein is the man leading the once-mighty cable news network. Media moguls have long explained why progressive voices are so rarely heard on their stations or in their pages. In Australia, for example, there are no truly left commentators/talking heads on television during current affairs programs. We’re constantly told that a liberal agenda is running rampant and yet centrists are frequently featured in lieu of progressive guests.

Anyway, back to Klein. During a recent interview on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show, Klein explained why liberals are marginalised. Fox News was tapping into a largely “angry white man’s” conservatism and then the clanger: “a quote/unquote, ‘progressive’ or liberal network probably couldn’t reach the same sort of an audience, because liberals tend to like to sample a lot of opinions. They pride themselves on that. And you know, they don’t get too worked up about anything. And they’re pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff.”

Where to begin with this nonsense? Hundreds of thousands protested the Iraq war, voted against George W. Bush in 2004 (or indeed didn’t vote for either Bush or John Kerry) and viewed any number of documentaries critiquing the current administration. Hundreds of campaigns continue across a wide area of activity, including against the “WOT” (War on Terror), Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting explains the hypocrisy: “As for progressives being “pretty morally relativistic,” Klein’s insult seems misapplied. One could argue that it’s the right and not the left that tends to see the killing of civilians as important only if the civilians are of the right nationality, for example, and thinks that torture may be acceptable if the right people are torturing.”

Klein’s diatribe is yet another reason why the mainstream media is no longer the place to regularly provide perspectives questioning the establishment. Following orthodox doctrine is what most mainstream commentators engage in. It’s not called journalism. It’s called channelling government propaganda.

***

I’m off to Melbourne again for this Anzac Day long weekend. If you still accept the views of status-quo enforcer Gerard Henderson, who argues that Gallipoli was a noble adventure – “in 1914-18 Australia did not fight another nation’s war – then facts will clearly never get in the way of a good yarn. Yet again, our colonial past is ignored or justified. Australia has a history of fighting the wars of the imperial powers. By all means remember the fallen soldiers, but ditch the romanticism. Until Australia forms an independent foreign policy and feels comfortable saying ‘NO’ to America or Britain, we will continue to be seen as a neo-colonial outpost.

Related to this, blogger Rex in the City explains the possible reason behind John Howard’s hesitation in signing ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation:

“By signing this treaty, we would be acceding to the rules of the South East Asian Nuclear Free Zone. The US does not like this zone, and to sign the treaty would put us in a difficult position with the US. We’re a major ally, relying on their nuclear umbrella and we’re not going to upset the applecart.”

As Rex rightly says, Australia’s embedded journalists are caught asleep at the wheel yet again.

ANYWAY, have a good break and feel free to leave in comments any thoughts related to the following:

1) The day we can expect to see the rise and rise of a Prime Minister with no financial ties to big business and favours to repay when elected;

2) The day we can expect journalists to collectively rebel against the Howard government’s increasing restrictions on press freedom (I know I’ll waiting a long time for this one!);

3) The day we can expect more than a handful of Arab voices to appear in our mainstream media. After all, we have just invaded and occupied one of them (Iraq) and contributed to the continued occupation of another (Israel). Editors reading this, here are a few suggestions; and

4) The life and times of your long-weekend.

See you Tuesday.

3 comments ↪
  • Rafe

    Hello Antony, a few comments:On 1, I look forward to the day when there is so little intrusion of government into the activities of business (apart from transparent rules and regulations) that it does not matter whether the PM has ties to big business, or to the trade unions or any other special interest group.On 2, I anticipate the day when journalists report the facts to the best of their ability without fear or favour for any politcal factions.On 3, I am not sure what this would entail, do we need some kind of affirmative action for Arabs? On the situation in Iraq and Israel, see (2).On the link to the very intersting piece by Hala Mustafa. She mentioned "the rising trend of socialism associated with liberation movements throughout the world". Well, that turned out to be a bummer didn't it! Time to rediscover classical, non-socialist liberalism?

  • Jozef Imrich, Esq.

    1, 2, 3 and 4There is only one certainty in life Death, Taxes and Underground Shaggish Political Humour ;-)Now playing in bloggosphere everywhere: It wasn’t me: GBJab Making a Difference

  • Andjam

    once saying that the US army "don't do body counts", a requirement under the Geneva ConventionsCare to quote where in the Geneva conventions it says that?The only time I've heard of any combatant group counting civilian dead as a matter of policy is when the killing of civilians is deliberate.Related to this, blogger Rex in the City explains the possible reason behind John Howard's hesitation in signing ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation:C'mon, even the kiwis were reluctant about signing it, with the treaty mentioned in the media several months ago but NZ only signing it recently. Are they in on this nuclear conspiracy?1) The day we can expect to see the rise and rise of a Prime Minister with no financial ties to big business and favours to repay when elected;The day when1a: Elections where the vast majority of funding comes from other sources (and would those sources be pulling strings?)1b: The end of government regulation or boondoggling1c: The destruction of capitalism2) The day we can expect journalists to collectively rebel against the Howard government's increasing restrictions on press freedom (I know I'll waiting a long time for this one!);If Labor comes into power before any collective revolution, do you expect the "increasing restrictions on press freedom" to decrease?3) The day we can expect more than a handful of Arab voices to appear in our mainstream media. After all, we have just invaded and occupied one of them (Iraq) and contributed to the continued occupation of another (Israel)Why just arab voices? What do you have against Kurds and Assyrians and Turkomen and Persians and …? Calling Israel an Arab country would be like calling Iraq a Kurdish country. And calling Iraq an arab country would be like calling Australia a White country.But as far as (insert minority group X here) voices in the media, if possible I'd rather have people of that background becoming opinionators by dint of their own work rather than some sort of tokenism occurring.That being said, I wouldn't mind Amir Taheri getting some columns in Aussie media.