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.

Targetting “them”

Murdoch’s Australian engages in modern-day McCarthyism:

A Deakin University lecturer has defended terrorism waged by Islamic jihadists overseas and “unequivocally” backed the Iraqi insurgency that has killed thousands of Westerners and Muslims.

Nasya Bahfen, a business communications lecturer at the Melbourne-based university, said that although she did not support suicide bombing as a means of self-defence, her views might be to the contrary had she been raised in Palestine.

“I don’t like the idea of innocent life being shed, but at the same time, I can’t say that if I grew up there (Palestine) I would not be a suicide bomber,” she told The Australian yesterday.

“Islam condemns the taking of innocent life, but at the same time, when a Muslim is oppressed, they have the right to fight back,” the 29-year-old lecturer said.

“If you think about suicide bombers in Palestine, your life would have to be pretty screwed up to want to strap bombs on yourself and blow yourself up and blow up other people.

“The difficulty with pointing that out is that you sound like you’re trying to justify terrorism, especially with the current climate.”

By placing the “story” on page three of yesterday’s paper, the Australian is clearly stating that such views are unacceptable and the person deserves to be targeted and outed as a terrorist sympathiser. The logical conclusion from this report is that only academics wholly accepting the “war on terror” ideology should be teaching “our” kids.

Last night I watched David Horowitz interviewed on Fox News. He was virtually incoherent and complained that a certain academic was a “communist” indoctrinating students with anti-American propaganda. Horowitz wants to excise those from university who don’t subscribe to his worldview. In other words, a modern day McCarthy. The Australian article above fits squarely into the same school of thought.

A recent article in the LA Times revealed the deeper struggle ahead:

‘UCLA STUDENTS: Do you have a professor who just can’t stop talking about President Bush, about the war in Iraq, about the Republican Party, or any other ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? It doesn’t matter whether this is a past class, or your class from this coming winter quarter. If you help expose the professor, we’ll pay you for your work.”

This grotesque offer appeared last week on a new website taking aim at members of the UCLA faculty. The site, created by the Bruin Alumni Assn., a group founded by 2003 UCLA graduate Andrew Jones, offers differing bounties for class notes, handouts and illicit recordings of lectures ($100 for all three).

A glance at the profiles of the “targeted professors,” however, reveals that they have been singled out, in most cases, not for what goes on in their courses, but for the positions they have taken outside the classroom — and outside the university.

Universities are places where all views should be encouraged, challenged and provoked. Conservative, radical, leftist and rightist. Those who oppose such diversity should move to North Korea.

14 comments ↪
  • Aaron Lane

    "The logical conclusion from this report is that only academics wholly accepting the “war on terror” ideology should be teaching “our” kids."

    No, the logical conclusion is that the Australian thinks it is newsworthy that an academic should excuse suicide bombing. I think the vast majority of members of the community would agree with that sentiment, Antony. And to call it 'modern day McCarthyism' is simply obscene. A newspaper has simply reported statements made by an individual. I think you will agree that that is a touch different to labelling people traitors and Russian agents without evidence and blacklisting them.

  • captain

    Well Antony, clearly not all views should be tolerated. Even you would (I hope) endorse the censorship of anyone advocating genocide or inciting hatred. All compassionate societies place limits on freedom of speech.

    Further, our universities have specific briefs: education and research. Often at the expense of the taxpayer. Views from academics should be tolerated through the lens of reasonableness. You would agree that the censorship, for instance, of an academic teaching that blacks were inferior was indeed proper. If you don't agree, I certainly don't think it is appropriate within the standard of a university to advocate views that are unsubstantiated and racist.

    So, there is a difference between the freedom to express an opinion and having views from having the authority of academia behind those words. It is precisely this kind of value that I think was recognised when the department of education censored the views of the Macquarie University unit that you are associated with. In this week's AJN for instance it became clear that the simulation for instance was unbalanced. Further that Dr Vincent has views that are beyond extreme ie that Arafat was murdered by Israel. Of course as an individual in a society I would not advocate the censorship of his views. As an academic with the authority and prestige of an instiution behind him, I am somewhat more circumspect.

  • edward squire

    Aaron Lane

    the logical conclusion is that the Australian thinks it is newsworthy that an academic should excuse suicide bombing.

    And there's the rub. You just repeated the fallacy … thanks to The Australian. The Australian's spin on Nasya's statements (even while quoting them!):

    A Deakin University lecturer has defended terrorism…

    . In fact, she did not excuse or defend suicide bombing in Palestine

    at all. She posited an explanation for it. In fact, Nasya herself pre-empted your fallacious thinking when she said:

    “The difficulty with pointing that out is that you sound like you’re trying to justify terrorism, especially with the current climate.”

    When will people learn to distinguish between explanation and justification?

    I think the vast majority of members of the community would agree with that sentiment, Antony.

    They might agree with the sentiment that reporting the statements of a defender of suicide bombers is in the public interest, but I don't think they would agree with the idea that newspapers should engage in sensationalist misrepresentation of people's statements in order to generate profit.

    Perhaps misrepresentation by The Australian is also newsworthy and in the public interest, but of course we can't expect The Australian to report that. Thus we turn to things like blogsites.

    And to call it ‘modern day McCarthyism’ is simply obscene. A newspaper has simply reported statements made by an individual.

    To reiterate: it did not "report" – it deliberately demonised an explanation of Palestinian suicide bombing. Why? Because explanations of suicide bombing – especially the method Nasya used ("how would you behave in that situation") – is dangerous: it can cause people to start humanising Palestinians.

  • Addamo

    “I think the vast majority of members of the community would agree with that sentiment, Antony. And to call it ‘modern day McCarthyism’ is simply obscene”

    I think you would also find that the vast majority of members of the community would agree that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal and inhumane. There can be no question that the Murdoch press has become very much a McCarthyiesque entity, and as Edward has proven, especially so seeing how far they had they spun this story completely to distort the facts.

    Just last week, it was reported in the US that academics who don’t parry the Iraq war and war on terror party line would be targeted. Given the climate in the US at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if many academics figure prominently are amongst 325,000 people being wiretapped by NSA.

    “In this week’s AJN for instance it became clear that the simulation for instance was unbalanced.”

    You call the AJN unbalanced? As AL pointed out a few weeks ago, the simulation involved more input from Israeli experts than even those with Arab backgrounds. The participants gave positive comments about the experience, and one participant even posted to this forum that he thought the whole exercise was worthwhile and productive.

    The AJN is reporting the Zionist position that discussion about the subject is in itself taboo.

  • edward squire

    captain,

    Even you would (I hope) endorse the censorship of anyone advocating genocide or inciting hatred.

    Fine, but the academic in question didn't advocate genocide or incite hatred.

    Further, our universities have specific briefs: education and research. Often at the expense of the taxpayer.

    Yes, their "brief" is to think independently and critically. Sadly, the government is whittling that away in various ways as we speak. These days, some of the 20th centuries best and most interesting academics just wouldn't get a job (or would soon loose their job) at an Australian university in the current climate.

    Views from academics should be tolerated through the lens of reasonableness.

    And who gets to define 'reasonableness'? In the 1930s the NSW State Parliament considered dismissing John Anderson, then Australia's most famous and best professor of philosophy. Why? Because of his unreasonable views: namely, that religious beliefs were self-evidently false, were perpetuated by authoritarian, dogmatic morons who sought to stifled the rational faculties of the human mind. In short, they were anathema to everything the Academy stood for. Thus he advocated the banning of religious organisations on campus. Why the standards of the time, Anderson stood an excellent chance of being sacked. Fortunately, the parliamentarians knew that 'reasonableness' (so often a weasel-word for 'herd-thinking') was not the criterion to be applied, but rather freedom of critical, rational thought was the measure.

    You would agree that the censorship, for instance, of an academic teaching that blacks were inferior was indeed proper. If you don’t agree, I certainly don’t think it is appropriate within the standard of a university to advocate views that are unsubstantiated and racist.

    For the above reason, the argument for a racist view must be accepted. Mere proselytizing however – whatever the view, racist or anti-racist – has no place in the Academy.

    So, there is a difference between the freedom to express an opinion and having views from having the authority of academia behind those words.

    As I understand it, Naysa was speaking in her capacity as a Project Manager for MWNNA; not as a lecturer in business communication.

    It is precisely this kind of value that I think was recognised when the department of education censored the views of the Macquarie University unit that you are associated with.

    That's a nice fantasy….and compared to the real reason, I would kill for that to be true. Fraser was sacked because he was generating bad publicity for the university. Bad publicity translates into lower overseas enrolments. Lower overseas enrolments translates into less revenue for the university. That is the over-riding force behind almost all decisions taken by university managers these days.

    In this week’s AJN for instance it became clear that the simulation for instance was unbalanced.

    Given that the AJN itself is unbalanced. (How many of its op-ed pieces have criticised the 35 year occupation, or the illegal settlements, or Ariel Sharon's human rights record, or the location of the Wall, or the explicitly discriminatory marriage laws, for example?) I'd be looking for a more disinterested source. That's what an academic would do.

    Further that Dr Vincent has views that are beyond extreme ie that Arafat was murdered by Israel.

    An uncritical moralist's reaction would be: don't trust him. Ignore him. Label him. Abuse him. Sack him. Silence him. An academic's response (thank god!) would be: what's his argument?

    As an academic with the authority and prestige of an institution behind him, I am somewhat more circumspect.

    The irony! As a private citizen, he can make any argument he likes – but if he is employed as a professional arguer, he can't!

  • rhross

    There is a difference between understanding why something may happen and condoning it.

    People who throw up their hands in horror at 'suicide bombers' are the same sort of people who would consider it acceptable to fight, in any way that they could, against an occupier.

    It is all a matter of perception. When we see occupation as a wrong, those who fight are called 'resistance.' The French resisting the Germans for example, the Americans resisting the English (although that was actually more a case of treason given that they were not really occupied), the Afghans resisting the Russians (although now it is America that occupies they are called insurgents), and so on.

    Ah, the human capacity for irony, dissembling, denial and plain old fashioned dishonesty.

    If Australia were occupied how many people would be prepared to use violence to throw out their occupiers…. and their familes… in any way that they could? A lot I imagine if not most.

    So why is it so surprising that Palestinians, Chechens, Afghans and Iraqis feel the same?

    That would be one rule for me and another for you in the best tradition of the seasoned hypocrite.

  • captain

    I wonder what people think of Fairfax trying to censor the Jewish community over Leunig's racist cartoons? Surely the Jewish community is allowed freedom of speech?

  • Addamo

    And in what language does demanding an appology mean censorship?

    And since when has the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, started accusing other of "a gross overreaction"? Is that non the raison d'etre of Zionist groups? Perhaps it was a backhanded compliment of sorts?

  • Addamo

    RhRoss,

    You hit the nail the head when you said "If Australia were occupied how many people would be prepared to use violence to throw out their occupiers…. and their familes… in any way that they could? A lot I imagine if not most."

    The hypocrisy of the US and Israel is truly mind boggling. If we shoot at you it's liberation. If you shoot at us, or resist our efforts to blow you up, you are terrorists who are against freedom and democracy.

    Go figure.

  • edward squire

    captain:

    I wonder what people think of Fairfax trying to censor the Jewish community over Leunig’s racist cartoons? Surely the Jewish community is allowed freedom of speech?

    The Australian federal government is not "the Australian Community". The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils is not "the Muslim community". The NSW Indonesian Community Council is not "the Indonesian community". Neither the Executive Council of Australian Jewry nor (especially) the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (an opaquely funded private lobbiest) is "the Jewish community".

  • captain

    Edward, as usualy, you miss the point. It seems that academics have the freedom to say what they want. When there is any move to curb them from doing this it is labelled censorship or facism. But of course when the Jewish community (and just like there are many universities, the ECAJdoes represent the majority of Australian Jews) make noise it is either lampooned as the evil zionist lobby or laughable attempts are made to curb its views. This time by the same organisation from which came Margo Kingston who claimed that Jews controlled the media and politics in Australia.

  • Addamo

    Captain,

    As ususal, you seem to be struggling with definitions, in this case, censorhsip. Are the ECAJ or any oher Jewish groups being prevented from making any statements toteh public? No, on the contrary. They are free to say what they want and if there was even a hint of evidence that what they were saying was being curbed, ther would certainly be an outcry, accompanied by predictions of the imprending second holocaust.

    Being lampooned or having he message of your statements distorted (if indeed this is what is happening) is not censorship, but freedom of exporession on the part of those who disagree. You seem to take objection to the notion that statements by these groups (the ECAJ etc) should be rebutted at all.

    Itonically, whta you are advocating is ceensorship – in one direction only.

    The Zionist lobby argument is a valid one, though it too can be used ourt of context or innapropriately. Just as the ansit-Semitic argument used flippnatly by Zionists to shut down debate.

  • edward squire

    captain,

    Edward, as usually, you miss the point.

    I didn't bother with your main point because I have comments on the failure to distinguish between censorship and criticism of views before. Addamo has just clarified the distinction again for your benefit.

    I decided to focus on the illegitimate rhetorical slide from the views of particular organisation to a community as a whole. The reason people do this is to try to give greater legitimacy to their own views than is due. If one were to merely say, "The officers of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the paid hacks at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council think blah blah blah", then that's fine and nobody would object … but you would also know it doesn't sound anywhere near as good as "The Australian Jewish community as a whole thinks blah blah blah." Solution? 'Identify' (as philosophers say) the two: make the ECAJ and the AIJAC mean "the Australian Jewish community as a whole". My assertion is that the identification is in fact a conflation. The argument need not be even made about the AIJAC – just look at what it is. In the case of the ECAJ, the argument is relatively simple. There are Australian Jews who are completely opposed to the position the ECAJ unilaterally takes (without a democratic vote by the Australian Jewish Community) on certain issues – such as, for example, the fundamentally abusive occupation, the fundamentally racist Law of Return, and so on. These Australian Jews are members of the Australian Jewish community. Ipso facto, the ECAJ does not represent the views of the Australian Jewish community as a whole. They only represent the views of those Australian Jews who agree with it. That, I suspect, is one of the reasons why there is often a campaign to delegitimate critical Australian Jews not by engaging with the arguments, but by questioning their "Jewishness". If Australian Jewish critics can be somehow re-made as "non-Jewish", then the ECAJ is one set closer to literally, rather than falsely, 'representing the views of the Australian Jewish community as a whole'.

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