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.

More than free speech

The controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons that allegedly offend Muslims shows no sign of abating. While some prefer to laud the “superior” West and the British Empire, others retaliate by publishing anti-Jewish cartoons and a tiny, extremist minority believe violence is the only way to display their contempt. Calmer heads must prevail.

One author, Philip Hensher, believes that the West must stand up to its accusers:

“If anti-democratic forces in the Muslim world can make such effective use of a cartoon in a small European country, they would be much more encouraged by any signs of restriction on our part. Anyone in the Muslim world arguing for freedom of speech, on religious or other matters, has only one place to look to – the west. We ought to take into account the sorts of factions in the Muslim world who would regard legal restrictions on our side as part of a wider victory.”

Such blind faith in “Western” ways should be treated with suspicion, however. Western exceptionalism is an ugly phenomenon. Moreover, the vast majority of the world’s population do not live in Western societies and despite what some in the White House may believe, have no desire to live like them.

Guardian journalist Gary Younge takes a different view:

“But the right to freedom of speech equates to neither an obligation to offend nor a duty to be insensitive. There is no contradiction between supporting someone’s right to do something and condemning them for doing it. If our commitment to free speech is important, our belief in anti-racism should be no less so. These cartoons spoke not to historic sensitivities, but modern ones. Muslims in Europe are now subjected to routine discrimination on suspicion that they are terrorists, and Denmark has some of Europe’s most draconian immigration policies. These cartoons served only to compound such prejudice.

“The right to offend must come with at least one consequent right and one subsequent responsibility. If newspapers have the right to offend then surely their targets have the right to be offended. Moreover, if you are bold enough to knowingly offend a community then you should be bold enough to withstand the consequences, so long as that community expresses displeasure within the law.

“The inflammatory response to their protest reminds me of the quote from Steve Biko, the South African black nationalist: ‘Not only are whites kicking us; they are telling us how to react to being kicked.'”

To suggest – as say some defenders of the cartoon – that this story is a test-case of how Islam can integrate into modern society, is based on a falsehood. Free speech has never been absolute in the West. Younge reminds us that Western societies routinely ban books and films, including American schools restricting Harry Potter.

Muslim-bashers don’t really need an excuse to prove the backwardness, bigotry and bias of Islam, as if any sheik or individual speaks for an entire religion. For them, Islam is an inherently violent religion, almost beyond reproach. After all, we’re constantly told, the West is under threat from militant Islam and publishing these cartoon is a slap in the face of Islamists the world over. Far too many today believe that Islam, by definition, is backwards and needs to be brought into the 21st century. This, usually, from people who have spent virtually no time in the Muslim world or with Muslims. And let’s not forget that many Muslims are embarrassed at the violent response to these cartoons.

Rachard Itani, writing in Counterpunch, reminds readers of Europe’s hypocrisy over the issue:

“In many European countries, there are laws that will land in jail any person who has the chutzpah to deny not only the historicity of the Jewish holocaust, but also the method by which Jews were put to death by the Nazis. In some of these countries, this prohibition goes as far as prosecuting those who would claim or attempt to prove that less than 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. In none of these countries are there similar laws that threaten people with loss of freedom and wealth for denying that large percentages of gypsies, gays, mentally retarded, and other miscellaneous ‘debris of humanity’ were also eliminated by the Jew-slaughtering Nazis.

“Quickly now: what defines a hypocrite? Answer: a person who follows the letter of the law, but not its spirit. The laws against anti-Semitism are just that: laws against anti-Semitism enacted by hypocritical Europeans with blood on their hands from the genocides in their recent and distant past, and much guilt to atone for in their hearts and minds.

“The spirit of the law, which would extend this protection to Muslims as well, if not indeed other religious groups, is nowhere to be found in the Western legal code. You can curse the Prophet of the Muslims at will and with total impunity. However, approach the holocaust at your own risks and perils if you do not include in your discussion the standard, ritualistic incantations about the six million Jewish victims of the European Nazis. There is a word for this in the English language: hypocrisy.”

By all means, let’s condemn the burnings of embassies. But let’s not presume that this cartoon was designed to achieve anything other than provocation. Western societies tolerate, even encourage, such behaviour and this should be encouraged. But the issue is much wider than many are arguing. Robert Fisk rightly urges calm:

“In any event, it’s not about whether the Prophet should be pictured. The Koran does not forbid images of the Prophet even though millions of Muslims do. The problem is that these cartoons portrayed Mohamed as a bin Laden-type image of violence. They portrayed Islam as a violent religion. It is not. Or do we want to make it so?”

At a time when political Islam is rising across the Arab world, and corrupt regimes imposed by the West are being rejected, the US, Israel and its proxies are fearful of the new vanguard. Anti-Semitism is rightly challenged, yet Islamophobia is excused and encouraged. We shouldn’t be surprised that much of the Arab world regards the West as hypocrites.

20 comments ↪
  • Wombat

    Another interesting point AL, and indeed a very pertinent article by Itani. Again, freedom of speech doesn't always mean freedom of speech.I believe I read somewhere that holocasut demiers aren't even allowed to introduce evidence into a court, let alone contest the charges.Muslims are not doing themselves any favours by their over protests, but Christian fanatics wer hardly benevolent when the film, "The Last Temptation of Christ" was shown in cinemas.

  • Progressive Atheist

    The Couterpunch article you linked to is the best I've read so far. It is clear that the real culprits in this are European Christians. The Norwegian newspaper that published the cartoons was a Christian one, and I suspect that Flemming Rose, the editor of Jutland Post is a Christian too. I saw him on CNN – three times – yesterday, and he came across as arrogant and unapologetic. He claims he is acting for free speech. I don't believe him. I think if you scratch him you will find an Arab-hating Christian underneath.As far as I am concerned, the Dutch and Norwegians deserve everything they get.

  • JohD

    I would have though that the notion of ridiculing another in satire carries with it the spirit of fair play; that they could ridicule you in turn. What are Muslims supposed to do? They cannot ridicule Jesus since they hold him in high esteem. I've got it! Why don't they burn an effigy of Hitler on the lawns of European editors that uphold 'free speech'. That should show them!

  • Wombat

    Progressive Atheist said…IKt's interesting that you mentionFlemming Rose as an Arab hating Christian. David pointed out in another thread that he is in fact a Zionist. Surprise surpise.

  • Progressive Atheist

    The Catholic Kevin Rudd has said it is OK for Australian newspapers to publish the anti-Muslim cartoons. Surely this is lunacy given the fact that we have just had to endure the Cronulla riots and their Muslim/Arab backlash.What would Morris Iemma do?

  • Aaron Lane

    "If newspapers have the right to offend then surely their targets have the right to be offended. Moreover, if you are bold enough to knowingly offend a community then you should be bold enough to withstand the consequences, so long as that community expresses displeasure within the law." This is perfectly true. What people are disturbed by, however, is that the offended community (Muslims) has in many instances not expressed its displeasure within the law. Since when has burning embassies, issuing death threats, calling for suicide bombings, etc, been considered lawful?In regard to the comment equating Muslim reaction to the cartoons with Christian reaction to Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ, I think it is obvious that there is no comparison. How many embassies were burnt during the course of the Christian protest? Andrew Sullivan makes a good point on his blog when he says that while Christians and Muslims both try to censor criticism of their religions, Christians generally do it peacefully, while Muslims are typically not so peaceful.

  • Iqbal Khaldun

    Aaron you might want to diversify your reading sources. The FBI in the US, for example, is constantly dealing with fundamentalist Christians plotting to or actually bombing abortion clinics. Anyway, why do we have to compare Christianity and Islam as though we were kids comparing superheroes?I think many Muslims need to develop a better sense of humour, but it is poor form to condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few. Much like condemning all Americans for the actions of their government.

  • Progressive Atheist

    I have tried to confirm Flemming Rose's Zionist credentials, but this is all I could find:We know that Flemming Rose is a colleague and fellow of the Zionist Neo-Con Daniel Pipes. He has visited Pipes in Philadelphia and written a friendly biographical article which is featured on Daniel Pipes Danish website. … Because of Rose's close connection with Daniel Pipes, … I think Rose is a Zionist agent who has created this scandal for a strategic purpose.http://www.savethemales.ca/That "strategic purpose" would be to promote Pipes' "clash of civilizations".So, apparently he is a Zionist, but is he a Christian or Jewish Zionist? There needs to be more investigation into this.

  • Wombat

    Aaron, I agree with Iqbal,There was an interview on Hardball last week, where Chris Matthews interviewed an FBI spokesman, James Cavanaugh, about rampant church burning going on in Birmingham, Alabama in the mid 90's.He mentions 55 church fires in his division. The motives were hate crimes, isoltaed biggotry, burgalry etc. He even mentinoes a devil worshipper who burned 26 churches from Indiana to Alabama.Accroding to Cavanaugh, the nick name for the area is Bombingham.http://movies.crooksandliars.com/Hardball-Liberals-churches.wmv

  • orang

    "We know that Flemming Rose is a colleague and fellow of the Zionist Neo-Con Daniel Pipes."If he detests Islam like Pipes then you have to question his motives. Similarly with our friendofDanielPipesTimBlair who I understand has posted the cartoons on his site. This to promote free speech?Just as the "civilised" world expects moderate muslims to rein in their more passionate adherents, so it should recognise the agents provocateurs in their own midst who gleefully create such situations and then hide behind the skirts of "freedom of speech". If you know I hate you calling me names and you go ahead and do it anyway, eventually you'll get a rock thrown at your head. – I think that's reasonable.

  • HisHineness

    "As far as I am concerned, the Dutch and Norwegians deserve everything they get."Are you serious? You think that burning embassies is fair payback for publishing a bunch of cartoons??

  • Wombat

    Perhaps Pipes and Blair will explain how chooseing not to show the cartoon is also freedom of speech.Or in this case, deemed as bad taste.Danish paper rejected Jesus cartoons http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1703501,00.html?gusrc=rss

  • Antony Loewenstein

    The following comment is by "HisHineness" (and didn't publish due to a system glitch):I am specifically trying to respond to the below comment by a commenternamed "progressive atheist", which I feel warrants a response:"It is clear that the real culprits in this are European Christians.The Norwegian newspaper that published the cartoons was a Christianone, and I suspect that Flemming Rose, the editor of Jutland Post isa Christian too. I saw him on CNN – three times – yesterday, and hecame across as arrogant and unapologetic. He claims he is acting forfree speech. I don't believe him. I think if you scratch him you willfind an Arab-hating Christian underneath.As far as I am concerned, the Dutch and Norwegians deserve everythingthey get."I'd like to point out that the burning of embassies is not a warranted response to the publishing of cartoons. Granted you maynot agree with me, however this is a fair argument in response toprogressive atheist.

  • Progressive Atheist

    I said previously:As far as I am concerned, the Dutch and Norwegians deserve everything they get.The publishing of the cartoons was a deliberate provocation. It was bound to end in violence. The Danish and Norwegian governments surely saw it coming, but did little to avert the inevitable. As you sow, so shall you reap.It's their karma, and there may yet be more karma to come.I've noticed that none of the Sydney papers have dared published the inflammatory cartoons. Why would they? They probably realize there are carloads of Lebanese youths at the ready with their baseball bats, with Cronulla fresh in their minds.

  • Aaron Lane

    Progessive Atheist, are you completely insane? Even if we accept that the publication of the cartoons was "a deliberate provocation", how can you possibly believe that mindless violence is an appropriate response? If you walk down the street and someone yells an insult at you, do you go and burn down his house? Of course you don't. Why, then, is it acceptable to burn down the embassies, threaten the citizens, etc, of a country simply because it has published some satirical drawings? And given that you think such a response is acceptable, I take it you will advocate an equally violent and barbaric reprisal next time some radical Imam makes derogatory comments about Jews or Christians.

  • Patt

    Its time for an end to this sad,sorry situation.

  • Progressive Atheist

    I didn't say the response was acceptable. I said it was inevitable. It seems to me it was deliberately planned. The publishers, most of whom are Christian, wanted this violence to happen. Emotions are being ramped up in preparation for the impending assault on Iran. There is only one way out, and that it for the culprits to apologize, and confess their real motives, but that won't happen.Already four people have been killed by police in Afghanistan over this. In the weeks to come, expect many thousands of Muslims to die.The Zionists in America and Israel must be sitting back laughing at all this, but there's really nothing we can do to stop any of this.

  • Aaron Lane

    In fact, you said that the publishers of the cartoons deserved everything they got. If that isn't saying the reaction was acceptable, then I don't know what is.

  • Progressive Atheist

    Flemming Rose is in hiding, in fear of his life. That's a pity. He should be in jail for the damage he has caused.

  • James Waterton

    Progressive Atheist, you're sounding fascist.