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.

News judgement

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) claims to be Australia’s finest newspaper. Interesting, therefore, that the latest circulation figures show a massive decline in readership. The weekday SMH lost 3.5% to just over 214,000 copies, while the Saturday edition shed a massive 5.4% to 352,482. There is trouble in Fairfax land. With speculation rife that management is hoping and praying for a change to cross-media laws after July 1 – allowing the once-great media company to be bought by a hungry mogul – the paper’s relevance to the Australian community is decreasing weekly. Numbers sold are far from the only barometer of success, but with less people still reading the paper, at what point does it become less relevant to informed debate?

Take today. “They’re having a baby – and eight Tassie cousins eagerly await a playmate”, screamed the article at the top of the front page. The pregnancy of Denmark’s Princess Mary is undoubtedly news-worthy, but the ever-increasing elevation of celebrity gossip to prominence shows an editorship, under Robert Whitehead, losing focus on what constitutes serious news. If the paper wants to be a tabloid, let the broadsheet morph into a tabloid or place such “news” in the entertainment section.

During a recent media forum, head of UTS journalism school, Wendy Bacon, spoke about the increasing reluctance of Fairfax to tackle the corporate takeover of Australia. She co-wrote a piece for the SMH in early March on the Australian connections of Halliburton. She said that she had had great difficulty getting the piece in the paper, “and if I was a nobody it possibly would have been impossible.” The facts in the story were alarming and yet no follow-up has occurred.

I recently spent time with one of the Middle East’s prominent journalists. I asked if he knew Paul McGeough, Fairfax’s leading foreign correspondent. He looked at me blankly. “Never heard of him”, he replied. McGeough is indeed one of Australia’s finest reporters, but his newspaper’s impact on setting agendas outside of Australia remains minimal, despite the advent of the internet. A newspaper’s success should never be solely dictated by its effect on the world, though it’s one important factor. We’re a small fish in a big pond, and seem to be becoming more parochial as time goes on. Shouldn’t a local paper want to challenge established norms in Washington, London and Canberra?

Is the mainstream media capable of seriously examining the tightening relationship between government and corporate interests? Are senior editors concerned about upsetting the status quo (witnessed during last year’s Federal election, when the Fairfax press either supported John Howard’s re-election or gutlessly sat on the fence, despite spending the previous years criticising Liberal Party policy.) We all know the agendas of the Murdoch press. We should be more questioning of how the Fairfax press conducts itself in a democratic Australia. If the organisation fails to listen, circulation figures will continue to haemorrhage and they’ll only have themselves to blame.

7 comments ↪
  • weezil

    Ant, there's little doubt that the quality of work coming out of Fairfax of late has sucked dog's balls. In particular, there's been a LOT of simple errors in the SMH online content… bad spelling, sentences fragged from sloppy edits, dead links, etc. These come from using cubs as grunts for the actual posting of the material. However, I also agree that a lot of the content is fluff. As you well know, I could not give a shit about the pope-a-palooza nor (despite her seeming incredible niceness), anything about Princess Mary. This is an editorial policy function, not the fault of the working journos at large. Mind you, if you compare the odd Fairfax fluff to the absolute torrent of tawdry twaddle that comes out of Murdochian meeja, it's barely significant. No paper can be all things to all people and those that make a concerted effort at being 100% news + 100% fluff fail rather miserably at it, as you might think. Regardless, I think that Fairfax is doing a fairly good job at presenting hard news and being a reasonably entertaining low-brain-activity diversion to stare at while one is wolfing down a sammich during a modern 30 minute lunch 'hour.'I have my suspicions as to the causes of Fairfax's recent circ number drops for the dead-tree version of the publication, but I wonder just how dire things really are. Moreover, I can't imagine that rusted-on Fairfax readers actually switch allegiances and buy Murdoch tripe. There's got to be other explanations- in example, Fairfax's readership might well be migrating to the online content for lunch hour entertainment instead of buying the dead-tree editions. When I last lived in the USA, I was in Indianapolis for the most part, which is a one-paper town. That one paper is the Indianpolis Star, which is owned by the Pulliam family. The Pulliams have long been well connected to the Indiana GOP. Incidentally, former Vice President J. Danforth Quayle is a close relative of the Pulliams. You can imagine the editorial wrongability and swapping of column-inches to fluff, away from hard news, particularly that critical of the Repuglican way of being.Fairfax HAS to exist on its own, separate from conglomerate editoria control. If Fairfax is suffering from lack of cash flow, I'd be happy to pay for an subscription to the online content. I can't imagine life in Australia without them!

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Having work at Fairfax for two years, I had some insight into the 'progression' of a once great media company. Yes, Fairfax papers are generally more interesting than the Murdoch efforts. Not much effort required. However, the last years have seen a massive reduction in news space on pages, replaced with advertising and the like. The corporate dollar is king. Besides, editorial interference does occur. Witness last year's Federal election. Fairfax wants to be bought, and then the senior managers, most of whom have no media experience, get a massive share bonus and frankly, don't really care too much about the editorial future of the paper. Fairfax is now fairly dysfunctional. It's important having alternatives to Murdoch and co, but increasingly Fairfax isn't that option. What is? Bloggers, the MSM, online forums, Crikey and a host of other options. Things are dire at Fairfax. They know it and so should we.

  • Anonymous

    What is the alternative option to Murdoch? "Bloggers, the MSM, online forums, Crikey and a host of other options."The MSM? Huh?

  • Antony Loewenstein

    A mix. Not just the MSM, but other sources, then, maybe, a semblance of truth may be attained.

  • weezil

    Ant said: "Fairfax wants to be bought"You can either run a newspaper or you can cultivate a commodity… not both. Journos should be running Fairfax. I'm thinking employee buyout. Such a transaction could attract a religious readership due to a perception of intrinsic democracy.Yeah, you could say I'm dreaming… but if Fairfax doesn't go some long and visible way toward differentiating themselves from conglomerate media, one of these days a group of independent bloggers will create a news network (which somehow will earn trust) that will eclipse not only Fairfax, but ABC as well.Nuts? I'm not so sure…

  • Antony Loewenstein

    What a great idea! A collective of indy bloggers taking on the so-called might of Fairfax and/or Murdoch. I suspect this will happen sooner rather than later. We can either wait for these media companies to shape up – arguably impossible due to corporate pressures – or forge ahead with alternative media.

  • weezil

    Ant, pop in to the Cat & Fiddle tonight and we'll ruminate.