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.

Truth and lies

“The US and Britain have agreed on how the debt owed by the world’s poorest nations can be erased”, booms the New York Times. The Age’s James Button writes that the world’s beautiful people are pressuring the leaders of the most powerful nations to do something about Africa. He approvingly quotes Bono, Bob Geldof and former Ultravox singer Midge Ure. At least he asks whether such activity will actually make a difference in Africa itself. What he doesn’t say is instructive. As ever, it’s up to Naomi Klein to reveal the reality:

“This is what keeps Africa poor: not a lack of political will but the tremendous profitability of the current arrangement [of Western imposed economic policies, namely privatisation.]”

“Neoliberalism, an ideology so powerful it tries to pass itself off as “modernity” while its maniacal true believers masquerade as disinterested technocrats, can no longer claim to be a consensus. It was decisively rejected by French voters when they said No to the EU Constitution, and you can see how hated it has become in Russia, where large majorities despise the profiteers of the disastrous 1990s privatisations and few mourned the recent sentencing of oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.”

The imposition of economic policies designed to benefit Western multinationals rather than Africa’s poor remains a key issue rarely discussed in the West. Back to Klein:

“All of this makes for interesting timing for the G-8 summit. Bob Geldof and the Make Poverty History crew have called for tens of thousands of people to go to Edinburgh and form a giant white band around the city centre on July 2 – a reference to the ubiquitous Make Poverty History bracelets. But it seems a shame for a million people to travel all that way to be a giant bauble, a collective accessory to power. How about if, when all those people join hands, they declare themselves not a bracelet but a noose – a noose around the lethal economic policies that have already taken so many lives, for lack of medicine and clean water, for lack of justice.”

John Pilger reminds us that the current face of “saving Africa” is in fact colonialism under a new name. Gordon Brown says there is an “obligation” on the poorest countries to “create the conditions for [business] investment.” The chief civil servant at the UK Department for International Development wrote, “We are extending our support for privatisation in the poorest countries from the power sector in India to the tea industry in Nepal.”

Why doesn’t James Button talk about this? Much easier to believe the propaganda of Gordon Brown.

6 comments ↪
  • Shabadoo!

    Of course, one could also say that for the vast majority of people over the mast majority of time, poverty and struggle for day-to-day survival have been the human condition, and what we enjoy in the West is an incredible human anomaly — ie., the West didn't make Africa and everyone else poor; they were poor already. The question then becomes how to best get more people sharing in the pie; it's pretty clear that all the post-colonialist experiments in various types of socialism and collectivism were disasters that actually did make things worse (Tanzania under Nyerere, Zimbabwe today). Freeing markets and talent and creating the conditions for investment really means giving people a lot more opportunity to do things with their lives, and should take power away from the kleptocracies that have further ruined Africa.

  • michael

    Of course the post-colonialist experiments in capitalism have been at least as disastrous as the socialist ones for those who don't enjoy the benefit of the strategic high ground of neo-liberalism's 'level playing field'.But I've always been a bit bemused by the simple minded dualism between 'capitalist' and 'socialist' economies. Exactly what is the significant difference between systems run by and for the benefit of a tiny technocratic elite where one system's elites get corporate paycheques and the other's gets government ones?I agree with Shabadoo! that we need to take power away from the kleptocracies that have ruined Africa (and the rest of the world) – starting with the corporate kleptocracy we live under. But his simplistic argument that 'the poor have always been with us', therefore no-one is to blame for the continuing poverty in Africa, is disingenous to say the least.It seems to be predicated on the idea that because the West has reduced the worst extremes of its own poverty, partly by manipulating the economies and political systems of the third world, that there can be no valid ethical argument for redirecting some of the massive surpluses currently fattening the hip pockets of western plutocrats towards providing basic human needs to the starving millions of the third world or for reducing the current plunder of third world resources and economies. Well, maybe there's is no valid argument within the framework of Shabadoo!'s impoverished ethics, but it seems to me that there are plenty of principlist and utilitarian ethical arguments for it nonetheless.That said, the fuzzy, feelgood gestures by Geldof and Bono seem to me to be the anti-poverty version of greenwashing.I think a Live-8 spokesman displayed his true level of commitment to Africa when he responded to a question about the overwhelming Anglo-Saxonism of Live-8 with "This is not Womad. We are not doing an arts festival".

  • Shabadoo!

    Michael, you write: "there can be no valid ethical argument for redirecting some of the massive surpluses currently fattening the hip pockets of western plutocrats towards providing basic human needs to the starving millions of the third world or for reducing the current plunder of third world resources and economies."I presume you mean "for not redirecting", but what do you call all the aid that has sunk into nothingness over the years?

  • shabadoo!

    Furthermore, doesn't debt forgiveness create a moral hazard, saying that there is ultimately no punishment for bad economic management; also, what does it say to countries that have been responsible and paid back their debts?

  • michael

    "I presume you mean "for not redirecting"".Read the whole sentence. I was summarising your argument, not putting my own.And your argument about 'punishment' for 'bad economic management' (why am I not surprised that you're a fan of punishing others?) is about as moral and sensible as suggesting that stolen goods should never be returned to the original owners because they need to be penalised for allowing them to be stolen in the first place.But I definitely think that debt relief is a distant second best option. The real answer is to rein in the corporations and institutions that are pillaging poor countries in the first place.

  • michael

    Today's Guardian has an article by George Monbiot that neatly deconstructs the hype around the debt relief project.