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.

Stuff Happens

Powerful and effective political theatre is a rarity in the 21st century. Ironic really, considering the tumultuous times in which we live. David Hare’s Stuff Happens changes all that. Recently opened in Sydney (with Melbourne to come), I saw the play with my partner last week.

Hare constructs the political machinations behind the Iraq war, the extremism and cynicism of the Bush administration and the pathetic Tony Blair, shown as a desperate leader determined to stay on the good side of Bush, whatever the cost. Hare has not simply constructed an anti-war piece (though the underlying tone is most certainly against the conflict), but rather looks at the backgrounds, motivations and lies spun by the major players.

Condoleezza Rice – played brilliantly by Leah Purcell in brightly coloured power suits, shoulder pads and almost robotic carelessness – is an academic ideologue, like so many in the American administration. No experience of war or its consequences (nor proper planning for the post invasion phase), Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Bush himself (a simple, quasi-religious idiot with savvy political skills) plan a “War on Terror” without any understanding of American power or its limitations, let alone legality.

When the play opened in London last year, the Guardian praised its insights (the paper even gathered “experts” to determine its accuracy). Hare does ask whether the ends justifies the means and comes down on the side of “no.” The facts allow no other answer.

Stuff Happens is moving and angry but has faults. Colin Powell is portrayed as the somewhat idealistic moral centre, determined to avoid war yet unsure how to achieve his aims. Sadly, his so-called idealism did not lead him to resign and his infamous presentation before the UN in February 2003 to “prove” the American case was a classic case of deception. His subsequent comments suggest that he probably knew this at the time or at least had major doubts over the intelligence he was sharing with the world. At one point in the play, he says of Saddam, “People keep asking, how do we know he’s got weapons of mass destruction? How do we know? Because we’ve still got the receipts.” Of course, those weapons never materialised.

Australia’s role in the invasion is mentioned in passing. A similar piece from an Australian perspective would be most welcome. Stephen Sewell, writer of the stunning “Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America”, said in 2003 that mainstream theatre spaces in Australia were unwilling to take risks on edgy political theatre. Most contemporary theatre produced by organisations such as the Sydney Theatre Company, he said, “lacked any social significance”, producing only ‘fruit-on-the-head’ theatre. “I am being blocked, have been for some time, because I don’t fit into their agendas, which is to reinforce their audience’s beliefs.”

As an irregular theatre-goer in Sydney, the distinct lack of contemporary, political commentary is striking (Hannie Rayson’s Two Brothers may be worthy but it’s as subtle as a sledge-hammer.)

Stuff Happens matters. The title refers to comments made by Rumsfeld in the face of widespread looting after the fall of Saddam. “Stuff happens … and it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”

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