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.

Investigation needed

Australia’s asylum seeker issues are making headlines in the UK. This is from today’s Independent:

“Australia’s treatment of asylum-seekers is under scrutiny again after revelations about a three-year-old girl who suffered serious mental health problems after spending her life in mandatory detention. Professional advice that Naomi Leong, a Malaysian child, should be allowed out to visit a playgroup for two hours once a week has gone unheeded.”

And this from today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

“The Federal Government transferred two suicidal Baxter detainees to a psychiatric hospital shortly before a court decision that would have compelled them to do so. In a damning judgement, the Federal Court found yesterday the Government had breached its duty of care in failing to provide adequate psychiatric care for the two Iranians held in the detention centre in South Australia. The court also found that the Government’s conduct “contributed to the progressive deterioration of the applicants” and that it “continued to commit itself to treatment plans that may have been exacerbating, or else inadequately or inappropriately treating” their conditions.”

(Margo Kingston explains what the political ramifications SHOULD be of this court ruling.)

Some are now calling for a Royal Commission into issues related to refugees and detention. In light of ABC TV’s Lateline discovering that as many as 100 individuals may have been wrongly detained over the last three years, surely we owe it to asylum seekers and mental health cases to discover the result of ongoing harsh refugee policy?

Equally important is an examination of the Howard government’s decision to privatise detention centres. When ACM, a subsidiary of the American Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, used to run our centres, accountability was virtually non-existent and profits skyrocketed. Conditions at the centres were frequently unacceptable. For more information of why these services should not be privatised, read this ABC Background Briefing report from 2004:

“Richard Harding [the Inspector of Custodial Services in Western Australia]: It shows that without proper supervision or care from DIMIA [Immigration Department], ACM did indeed develop its very own culture of indifference and worse than indifference, in fact virtually all of the riots that we’ve seen film and video of over the years, shows not riot control so much as riot provocation behaviour by the on-site operators, ACM. But you always come back to the fact that this is being allowed to happen by the persons with the responsibility in international law, in duty of care terms, in political terms, for running a decent operation. DIMIA and ultimately the Minister and the Federal government.”

4 comments ↪
  • Andrew Bartlett

    The contracting and sub-contracting arrangements for detention centres is one aspect of this disgraceful saga which hasn't had much focus.The running of Baxter is contracted out to GSL, but they then contract out some of the health services to another company, who then hire sub-contractors to perform various tasks but who are often just 'recommending' treatment back to others back up the chain. A shambles driven by profit, not by ensuring duty of care.This case is not the first time that severly ill detainees have had to take the Dept to Court to get propoer medical treatment (a disgrace in itself that they shold have to go to such extreme lengths for a basic right), it is just the first time it has progressed all the way through to a judgement.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    Thanks for your comments, Andrew.The contracting of people's misery – which, when we think about it, is essentially what these profits are made from – is rarely examined by the mainstream. It's as if it's an area too sensitive, too messy, too complex, too God knows what. Examining this reality will become even more essential post July 1. I suspect the place for this debate will not be the mainstream media – they'll be even more scared than now. Hello blogs…

  • syed-m

    It's worth comparing the media's coverage of the mandatory detention of asylum seekers over the years with the recent coverage of Corby and the 'Bali 9'. Motivations aside, quite clearly the media has the capacity to convey the humanity of people in detention.

  • michael

    Andrew has a point, but I don't think that the privatisation of detention health services is really at the core of the problem.'NSW Justice Health' (formerly 'Corrections Health Servives') provides healthcare to all NSW prisons except Junee (the only private prison in NSW). Its service is just as appalling as the privatised ones – especially in the area of mental healthcare.I don't see any advantages in having a shambles driven by bureaucratic corruption over a shambles driven by profit.When I hear people like Louise Newman and – god help us – Carmen 'mandatory sentencing' Lawrence bang on about the third rate mental healthcare provided to children in immigration detention it makes me want to puke. Both of them are responsible for more than their own fair share of abusive treatment of mental health patients and child detainees (unlike the NT, Carmen's mandatory sentencing laws are still locking up Aboriginal kids in WA).As Foucault pointed out, mental healthcare within the context of coercion and detention is always oppressive – whether that detention is in a desert rathole or a locked ward of a public or private hospital. If those grandstanding to the media about the treatment of DIMIA detainees would pay a bit more attention to the abuse of those they are in a better position to assist it might be easier to listen to them without having to hold your nose at the rank hypocrisy of it all.