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.

Timor and Bin Laden

In the aftermath of the London attacks, a handful of conservatives wondered aloud about the connection between Islamic terror and Timor’s “liberation”. Tim Blair: “Anti-war leftoids, who supported East Timor’s liberation, always seem to forget East Timor when blaming the West for Islamic terror.”

Wrong. Says who? Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and former ASIO chief Dennis Richardson.

First, Richardson, speaking at the Sydney Institute on Tuesday, 26 October 2004:

“In this context, I think bin Laden’s first known reference to East Timor in November 2001 was designed to strike a chord in South East Asia, especially Indonesia, and his subsequent references to Afghanistan and Iraq must be seen in terms of al-Qa’ida propaganda and recruitment purposes. That is not to diminish the significance of his references to East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, but to question whether our involvement in those countries is the central driver in al-Qa’ida’s targeting of Australia. Otherwise, how do you explain al-Qa’ida’s very real interest in Australia, and the targeting of us, before our involvement in those countries. It simply does not make sense.”

Downer on ABC Lateline on 16 March 2004:

TONY JONES: Let’s come to the issue what is Al Qaeda propaganda, as you put it, and what isn’t. First of all would you agree with the proposition that Australians were targeted in Bali because of their intervention in East Timor?

ALEXANDER DOWNER: No, I don’t think Australians were so much targeted as Westerners were targeted in Bali. We don’t have evidence that Australians themselves were targeted. We know that 88 Australians were killed. There were a large number of Australians in that nightclub and in Paddy’s Bar on that night. But I think this was an attack against Westerners generally because this was a bar that Westerners congregated in. I don’t think you can link it directly to the Timor issue.

If right-wing commentators have better intelligence than either man, produce it now. They don’t, of course, making their accusations all the more pathetic.

al-Qaeda is as opportunistic as those conservative commentators attempting to rewrite history. When the West was supporting Bin Laden against the Soviets during the 1980s, we heard no complaints from the usual suspects. Today, however, any excuse of absolving Western responsibility for Islamic terror is acceptable. History knows better than to trust these false idols.

16 comments ↪
  • J F

    You fail to engage with the thrust of Blair's quote.Here's how I read the Blair quote: Anti-war leftoids blame the west for terrorist attacks – the root causes argument. Many of these same leftoids supported Australia's involvement in East Timor. These same leftoids conveniently ignore the East Timor involvement as a root cause of terror attack. Leftoids ignore East Timor as a root cause of terror attacks because they were in favour of Australia's involvement. It boils down to political point scoring.Please correct me if I've got it wrong.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    The point is that Timor has been used opportunistly by Bin Laden and his ilk to justify atrocities. It's false and Downer and Richardson say so.

  • J F

    You are attributing to Blair a point he does not make. This should be obvious if you've read the Blair post you've linked to.

  • leftvegdrunk

    It was when I attempted to post a comment at Blair's site one day that I came across the whole "strawman" argument – I was attacked by Blair's band of defenders (of whom obedient little JF is one) and accused of "building a strawman". I guessed this was some American internet lingo, shrugged, and forgot about it.The other day I read somewhere that the strawman technique is a favourite tactic of the right, notably in the blogosphere. Blair's effort here is a case in point. Some lefties think A, all lefties must therefore think B, and that is inconsistent with C, so they must all be hypocritical opportunists. Simple really.So JF, I disagree. Blair is suggesting that lefties blame the west for terrorism because of its foreign policy, yet this is hypocritcal because the left supported humanitarian efforts in Timur. Antony is in turn suggesting that the military action in Timur is not the same as decades (centuries) of US and other great power foreign policies throughout the world, and that intelligence and government figures contradict Blair's assertion that Timur is a part of the Islamist's set of grievances.If you wish to defend your beloved Blair, then you should ask him to qualify the statement that is critical to the passage you quote: "Leftoids ignore East Timor as a root cause of terror attacks". That is, prove that it is a root cause. Otherwise it can be seen that Blair is not only constructing a strawman argument (wouldn't that make his regulars go red in the face) but supporting his spurious and always ambiguous attack against "leftoids" with an unsubstantiated assertion.Besides, a bit of research would reveal that layers of the Australian and international left (not the usual mainstream voices that Blair loves to quote) actually opposed Howard's military intervention and still oppose the military presence there. But of course, Blair's whole sniping show would collapse if the enemy, the "left", was shown to be something other than monolithic.So Antony's question about Blair is valid: Contribution to the world? Anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty knows the answer to that.

  • J F

    I am not defending Blair, I'm disputing AL's – and now your – reading of what Blair wrote. If you follow the link to Blair's post you'll see that he regards the so called "root causes" of terrorism as a "persistent myth". In order to spare themselves the embarrassment of having supported a root cause of terrorism the left conveniently omit East Timor as one of the root causes.It could be I'm reading it wrong but I don't think so.

  • leftvegdrunk

    JF, of course you wouldn't read it wrong. Must be the rest of us. Thanks for clarifying.

  • J F

    Big of you to admit that. Thanks.

  • William Bowe

    Tim Blair says that "when blaming the West for Islamic terror" – something he doesn't do – the left usually manages to forget East Timor and leap straight to Iraq and Afghanistan. Richardson's and Downer's statements aren't inconsistent with this. The broader position of all three is that Islamic terrorists target the west because of their religious ideology and not because of anything we have done to provoke them, be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or East Timor – as evidenced by "al-Qa'ida's very real interest in Australia, and the targeting of us, before our involvement in those countries".All three of them should be careful here. The fallback position of right-wing ideologues is that AQ and its sympathisers target the west for reasons peculiar to themselves, and that consequently the west has no need to consider any hostility its actions might generate. Therefore, the appropriate policy is to do whatever needs to be done to kill the west's enemies with no regard to collateral damage (be it the kind experienced in Falluja, or at Kings Cross Station). This is manifested in the reluctance of Blair & Co. to acknowledge that the Iraq adventure might just have done more harm than good, whatever the virtues of removing Saddam Hussein.However, the left's corresponding fallback position – that the west is targeted entirely as a result of its own actions, or at least those of which the left disapproves – is no better. It will not do to argue that "we can't believe" (to use John Pilger's words) that Australia's intervention in East Timor might have aroused hostility from Islamic militants in Indonesia and beyond, while simultaneously arguing that attacks on the west amount to come-uppance for Iraq and Afghanistan. Blair is on very solid ground in assailing this point of view, and it's strikes me that that's all he's doing here (even if he is going about it in a rather childish fashion).

  • dorkafork

    "If right-wing commentators have better intelligence than either man, produce it now.""We warned Australia before not to join in [the war] in Afghanistan, and [against] its despicable effort to separate East Timor.It ignored the warning until it woke up to the sounds of explosions in Bali.Its government falsely claimed that they [the Australians] were not targeted."Statement believed by experts to be from Osama Bin Laden himself. There's also statements of the bombers themselves implicating Timor (reg. required).Personally, I don't think Bali is what some might call a "direct result" of Australia's actions in Timor, I think the "root causes" go a bit deeper. But if someone is going to argue that terrorist attacks are a direct result of our policies (and many have), they look silly when they pick and choose policies they agree with and ignore policies directly mentioned by the men responsible.(One more thing, if Timor is used for "propaganda and recruitment purposes", then Timor would basically by definition be one of the "root causes" for terrorist attacks. It means Timor inspires people to join al-Qaeda.)

  • KK

    ah Timor – what a marvellous reminder of the perfidy & vileness of Gough Whitlam & Paul Keating

  • buck smith

    The philosophical roots of Islamism started 100 years ago with the founders of Muslim Brotherhood. I think the attacks would have come regardless of anything the US or Australis did or did not do.

  • Michael

    Besides, a bit of research would reveal that layers of the Australian and international left (not the usual mainstream voices that Blair loves to quote) actually opposed Howard's military intervention and still oppose the military presence there. Telling people to do a "bit of research" to validate your own position has never been and never will be a particularly compelling debating tactic, if you have the evidence to support your position, then show it, don't expect others to find it for you. Personally, I would love to see the evidence that shows how badly the left got it wrong on East Timor – especially if, as you say, they are still saying it was wrong to intervene.Of course you might be just refering to the extremist layer of the Australian and international left, but that would make your point even more irrelevant because just like the extreme right, their views aren't really taken seriously by anyone.

  • leftvegdrunk

    Relevance, KK?

  • leftvegdrunk

    Michael, the point (which I am sure you did actually get) is that generalisations about "leftoid" opinion are a fallacy simply because the left is not monolithic. Just as your hackles would be up if I said you were clearly a racist and a fascist because you have a tendency toward the right.

  • Michael

    So dirtbikeoption, lets bypass all the hyperbole about the "monolithic" left (which I would guess has never actually been seriously suggested by anyone – except by people trying to bog an argument down in semantics)and bring it down to basics. Given his use of Downer and Richardson as people whose opinion he clearly thinks are accurate and important, Anthony clearly accepts that Iraq is not the main cause of current terrorist attacks, unlike a lot– not all mind you, but a lot, of "Anti-war leftoids" as Tim actually said, do you accept that those who ignore the wisdom of Downer and Richardson and are trying to blame Iraq for the current state of terrorism are wrong?

  • Andjam

    I just noticed that scare quotes were used with East Timor's liberation.The description of you as a wannabe kapo is inaccurate. No-one in the pro-Indonesian militia was Jewish.