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.

How to spot a liar

The following review appears in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

How to spot a liar

There are lies and lies and real pork pies, writes Antony Loewenstein

The Truth About Lies
By Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen

ABC Books, 273pp, $29.95

Lord Carlile, Britain’s independent reviewer of terror laws, said last month that a lack of public trust in the intelligence and security services over the terrorist threat was directly related to the way in which the Blair government advocated war in Iraq.

“The trust issue”, he said, “has been very damaged by the intelligence information connected with the Iraq war which is perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be inaccurate.” Thus Carlile touched on a fundamental issue of our age; the public has an uncanny knack of fingering a liar, no matter how much spin is deployed to cover uncomfortable facts.

Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen are both experts in determining truth from fiction. Shea is a former London police officer and Van Aperen is an FBI-trained polygraph examiner. Their book provides a light-hearted examination of the trade and provides skills to determine whether a loved one, politician or journalist is lying. The authors ask readers to acknowledge that we all lie at various points in life, but only some lies are truly damaging. Context is everything.

Research at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University College has found that women are better liars than men, principally because women are more fluent speakers and more confident in getting a message across. I wonder what would happen if more female politicians rose to power in Western nations. Aside from a necessary balancing in the daily running of affairs, would women lie even more effectively than their male colleagues?

In the UK, there are moves to ensure politicians promise to never lie while in office. The chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham, says that the public demands politicians “tell it as it is and own up to mistakes.” Taking a country to war on a lie would hopefully classify as a “mistake.”

The book reminds us that, “deceit…is not solely a wicked human character trait.” Rather, it is part of our “natural instincts” and is utilised by many other creatures. For humans, however, lying is often simply the way of getting ahead.

In a study conducted in Britain in 2001, for example, 29 per cent of people admitted to misleading their current employer when they applied for the job.

The UK-based Centre for Policy Studies released a study in mid February that alleged the Prime Minister Tony Blair had manipulated the threat of terrorism for political ends. “Few people now believe what the Prime Minister, the security services and police tell us about security matters”, it concluded.

Just one month earlier, documents emerged in the UK that revealed a hidden strategy by the Blair government to suppress debate about the country’s involvement in “extraordinary rendition” prisoner transfer program. Shea and Van Aperen would undoubtedly conclude that such spin is eroding the public’s faith in government and leading to a dangerous crisis of confidence.

So how do you spot a liar? Confusion between tenses when recalling a story is a tell-tale sign. “Once you hear somebody using past and present tenses within the same statement”, the authors write, “you know you’re stepping onto pretty thin ice when it comes to telling the truth.”

Paying attention to a person’s non-verbal behaviour is also a key. Van Aperen recently told a national newspaper that it is easier for a person to confess to a crime if they can justify it to themselves. “In 14 years with the police”, he said, “I saw all methods of interrogation and I can tell you the most effective method of interviewing is not blaming the person for their behaviour.”

Hitler famously said that, “the great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” The man certainly knew something about persuasion.

This book provides a timely insight into our “relaxed and comfortable” age. Orwell would have been appalled.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney freelance journalist and author.

4 comments ↪
  • edward squire

    I can see the by-line of a certain sectarian newspaper already;

    Loewenstein Quotes Hitler Admiringly

  • Chris

    I believe there is a previous comment on this blog, in which Antony agreed, alluding that quoting Hitler meant you'd already lost the game.

    I am sure there were other national figures that he could have quoted to the same affect. His need to invoke Nazi Germany could be a sign that he did not have enough of a stance to stand on its own merits.

    I'm sure no one here blames Antony for falling back on a poor role model.

  • John Ryan

    Well Chris you would know,having a war crimmial or 2(Sharon and Begin) leading the land you defend some much,we also know about liars here as well with the Govt and about 90% of the people in it

  • Chris

    Sorry, I wouldn't know.