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.

Indonesia and Australia

The Australian government should be congratulated for giving temporary protection visas to a group of West Papuan refugees escaping Indonesian repression. It is a welcome start, though much more can be done.

Damien Kingsbury is Director of International and Community Development at Deakin University and an Indonesia expert. The following article is his comment on the latest diplomatic and political row between Indonesia and Australia and is published here exclusively:

Indonesia, Australia and West Papua
Damien Kingsbury

Australia’s decision to grant 42 of 43 Papuan asylum seekers temporary protection has put Australia’s relationship with Indonesia under renewed strain. It has also highlighted contradictions in Australia’s policy toward Indonesia.

The already parlous political environment in Papua has worsened in recent months. The escape to Australia by 36 adult Papuans and seven children, claiming human rights abuses, was both an indication of this increasing problem, and intended to highlight it. The riot at the giant Freeport gold and copper mine last Thursday, in which three police and a military intelligence officer were killed, was another.

There have also been a series of demonstrations and riots in and around the provincial capital of Jayapura against the elections on 10 and 11 March for the legislatures of the now divided province. Jakarta had promised to address Papua’s many political and economic problems with the granting of ‘special autonomy’ in 2001. However, this ‘special autonomy’ has largely been observed in the breach, with the division of the province being the final betrayal.

The TNI has also doubled the number of its permanent troops in Papua since last September. Their casual violence towards indigenous Papuans and the requirement to fund up to three-quarters of their living costs from local sources – both legal and illegal – has worsened the local security environment. Last December, military (TNI) commander in Papua, Major-General Mahidin Simbolon – who was deeply involved in East Timor’s violence in 1999 – confirmed that local soldiers and police had been paid US$26.6 million between 1998 and 2004 by Freeport for ‘protection’.

Australia’s recognition of the claims of the Papuans as political refugees highlights its own internally contradictory policy towards Indonesia. The granting of asylum officially confirms their claims of continuing human rights abuses in the territory. Indonesia’s special forces, Kopassus, murdered Papuan leader Theys Eluay in 2001.

Last year, Australia formally renewed training between the army’s SAS and Kopassus, which had been ended after the TNI’s involvement in the destruction of East Timor in 1999.

Australia’s military links with Indonesia, and its proposed security treaty which will probably be signed in June, is the sort of papering over of such contradictions that led to the fallout between Australia and Indonesia over East Timor. It was, and remains, a policy, the longer term costs of which are much greater than its claimed short term benefits.

Meanwhile, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is trying to bring the TNI more firmly under civilian control, which the TNI is resisting. The TNI’s position in Papua, and the future status of the territory, is the test case in this contest for control.

Yudhoyono’s closeness to Australia will work against him and damage his cautious but clear reform agenda, including on an intended negotiated outcome to the Papua problem. He, or more likely his senior ministers, such as Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono, will therefore have to be seen to be critical of Australia and thus play into the hands of the pro-TNI hardliners.

Australia’s contradictory and confusing policy towards the TNI does not assist Yudhoyono in his efforts towards military reform, complicates Indonesia’s internal political processes, and leaves most Australians wondering why successive governments have insisted on supporting such a corrupt and brutal military.

A clearer policy for Australia would be, like the Indonesian government itself, to recognize that the TNI is still not under civilian authority. It should therefore refuse to deal with them until that is clearly and demonstrably the case. Accepting Papuan asylum seekers would then be consistent with this view and it would actually accord with the Indonesian president’s own policy towards the TNI.

But that is not Australia’s policy at this time. And given the almost fetish-like insistence by influential policy advisers in Canberra of cuddling up to the TNI regardless of its crimes, Australia’s relationship with Jakarta will continue to be bounced from pillar to post.

In the meantime, the people of Papua, and elsewhere in Indonesia, will wear at least some of the consequence of Australia’s confused bilateral policy. 

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