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.

The other side of fear

Former Labor leader Mark Latham has become a best-selling author with his tell-all Diaries and vehemently disliked by the political and media establishment. After seeing him last night in Sydney – looking tanned and fit – he appeared to exude an air of confidence. He has, after all, left politics and now spends his days with his two young boys and wife. Past worries and obsessions perhaps seem now irrelevant, or at least much less important.

This was his only Sydney appearance to promote his book. Gleebooks was packed. I’d say evenly split between ALP supporters who hate Latham for revealing the parlous state of the party and others who find his insights both compelling and necessary. I’m certainly in this category, though I’ve never been a fan of Latham nor his policies while in politics. His Diaries, however, remain the most compelling Australian political book of the year.

The Australian reports on the evening as if Latham said something controversial. Instead, he argued that John Howard was “happy” about the recent Sydney riots and still held “racist” views. The Oz explains:

“He [Latham] repeatedly referred to Mr Howard’s 1988 comments about the need to slow down Asian immigration and insisted the Prime Minister would still hold these ‘racist’ views.

“‘If you want to have a look at Howard’s Australia, you should have been down at Cronulla.'”

Latham was simply stating a political reality. Politicians manipulate fear to create uncertainty and citizens are therefore less likely to change parties during such times. The “war on terror” has been grossly exaggerated and he said he was more worried about the competency of ASIO than a terrorist attack. There is a terrorist threat, he said, but it’s minimal and the mainstream media and political elites continually stir up imaginary threats to scare voters and keep readers buying their products. He said that during ASIO briefings while he was leader, he came away feeling unsure about what they actually knew, their ability to catch “terrorists” and the vagueness of their reports.

Ariel Sharon benefits politically when terror attacks hit Israel and successive Israeli leaders have provoked Palestinian militants to provide the necessary political cover. Likewise in the US. Bush benefited after 9/11 and another terror attack on US soil – unless the administration could be proven to have been asleep at the wheel – would likely benefit Bush. Howard is no different, and saying so should not be controversial.

Latham discussed the recent Sydney race riots and claimed that Howard’s Australia produced them. He believed that the political system was dead and incapable of change. He urged – not unlike his recent talk at Melbourne University – that young people interested in politics should avoid the major parties and instead work in community groups and building social relations. The system was so corrupt, Latham warned, people shouldn’t waste their time even trying to solve it. He, of course, thought he could change the ALP, though failed miserably.

Question time was intriguing. Some were mightily pissed off with Latham and wondered how he could take so much from the ALP, then trash it so thoroughly. He said that everybody had had their say, so why shouldn’t he? Fair enough answer, I thought. He was accused of not having enough “discipline” during the 2004 election campaign, “because if you had, we could have won.” One ALP member after another stood up and asked what grass-root members were supposed to think of the party now. Surely they didn’t need Latham to tell them the hard truths.

He was asked about his views on Howard. “I once called him an arse-licker”, he said, “and I have no reason to change my view now.”

The assembled crowd were agitated and frustrated. Howard’s Australia has become unsettling for a large minority of the population and some people seemingly wanted Latham to find a way, any way, out.

Latham’s observations were astute and honest. Since leaving politics, he has nothing to lose and therefore his comments carry more weight than most serving politicians. “The thing that has sustained multiculturalism, until the past week, is Australian apathy”, he said. Perhaps he is right. The kind of Australia that is likely to emerge in the coming years is still being created. We should reject the politics of fear. It will only lead us down the path towards an insular, small-minded and exclusionary future.

Australia can be much better than that, but do enough people agree?

4 comments ↪
  • Pete's Blog

    Oh no AL? Your almost waxing purposefully – a politician in the making? Beware your conscience.Tis true what Latham says about the corruption of the 2 major parties. Something I saw as an insider while working for them.Its was so bad in the last Southeast QLD State Elections that the Libs, Labor and Nats were gormless ferrets. The toss went down to Family First and a Greenie – I choose the latter.Barnaby's the only guy with balls – shame he often votes the wrong way.

  • Antony Loewenstein

    A pollie? Me? Never. Too much compromise and corruption required. Not for me!

  • Wadard

    Australia can be much better than that, but do enough people agree?Count me in!

  • Guy

    Yeah, I was there too. I don't agree with all he has to say, but it's sad that he is giving the political game away entirely.