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 war we want

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

Progress towards peace in the Middle East must, if it is to have any chance of lasting, be based upon truth not propaganda. The state of Israel was created by the forcible confiscation of lands previously owned by others. That is simple historical truth, despite the attempts by Zionists to paint Palestine in the same way that British settlers painted Australia, as a land without people. This was supported at the time by the bulk of European nations. They did so out of appropriate pangs of guilt about their failure to act when Hitler decided to wipe out the Jewish people of Europe. They thus decided to give Arab lands to the Jewish people.

The struggle in Palestine now is therefore about a people who have suffered a half-century campaign of massacre and dispossession from their ancestral lands, who are fighting to regain some semblance of rights and some minor restitution of land (less than 20 per cent of what was taken from them to create the state of Israel) from an occupying people who had themselves been subjected to genocide and dispossession by another nation half a world away.

Looking on from outside, the vast bulk of the world has been as horrified by this campaign of terror and dispossession against an entire people as they belatedly were about the Nazi campaigns against the Jews themselves. That is evidenced by the litany of more than 100 UN resolutions condemning the actions of Israel against the Palestinian people.

Independent human rights groups from around the world have pointed out the daily indignities and atrocities committed by Israeli troops on Palestinians, many of which have been occurring for decades, and have pointed to the massive difference in scale between the civilian casualties suffered by the Palestinian people and the Israelis.

Since the beginning of the intifada the number of Palestinian children casualties has exceeded the number of Israeli children casualties by between five and seven to one.

Until the disgrace of this daily subjugation of an entire people is brought to an end, no amount of equivocation and hair-splitting by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (Letters, July 12) can hide the fact that an ongoing crime against humanity is being carried out as we all sit back and watch.

Les MacDonald Balmain

Israel, meanwhile, continues its dream of perpetual war.

21 comments ↪
  • Ros

    “They did so out of appropriate pangs of guilt about their failure to act when Hitler decided to wipe out the Jewish people of Europe. They thus decided to give Arab lands to the Jewish people.”

    Invoking the Holocaust as a critical and determining event, thought that was a no no now.

    A few facts, no doubt presented again and again but worth repeating

    1917 Balfour declaration

    June 22, 1922 The Churchill White Paper “A system of immigration certificates is adopted along with the concept of "economic absorptive capacity" – meaning that distressed Jews without financial means will be kept out. This White Paper does reconfirm that Jews are in Palestine "as of right and not on sufferance."”

    1919-1923 The Third Aliya brings Jews from Eastern Europe hoping to escape the devastation of the war, and postwar pogroms.

    Note post WW1 progroms.

    1931 to 1939, “the Jewish population in Jerusalem increased by 26,000 and the Arab population by 15,000. Most Jews came from Poland and Germany and most Arabs came from Syria and Transjordan (The 76% of the Palestinian mandate which was hived off, Jordan.) “ Jewish migration to Transjordan banned.

    “It should be noted that Jews were not allowed free immigration to any country in the world. For instance, the United States severely restricted immigration beginning in 1924, when only 10,000 Jews were allowed entry. The same year, 34,000 Jews arrived in Palestine.”

    One of those to arrive in Palestine in 1929 was the 4 year old Yasser sent to live with an uncle in Jerusalem by his parents who had moved to Egypt, not been driven from Palestine, in the 20’s.

    If we want to consider post WW2 immigration to Palestine instead it is purported that at least 400,000 Arabs have entered the West Bank and Gaza via Jordan since the start of Oslo, as one example of the complexities of this ongoing struggle. Or the Jews driven out of the ME countries to Israel, still no calls for compensation in the UN?

    “this campaign of terror and dispossession against an entire people”

    What is a Palestinian, how many of those who now carry the label Palestinian were such in the years prior to the Holocaust. The migration from Transjordan in particular was driven by the work opportunities created by the Jewish immigrants. And yet 80 years later the politics of Palestine ensure that the employment opportunities created by Israel are closed to them. The working immigrants from other parts of the world; Bolivia, Cameroon, Columbia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Bulgaria, China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand, Turkey. It seems many Muslims can bear to live in Israel, and they are not keen on solutions that would replace them in the Israeli workforce with Palestinians.

    The writer seems to base his opinions purely on emotion, facts are an unnecessary adjunct to his reasoning. Which leaves unfortunately the same old question about the beliefs informing the individual.

  • Addamo

    It's funny Ros,

    But depending on who you ask, or what side of the debate you wish to consult, you get two opposite but equally compelling arguments. I'm not denying that what you have said is true, but also truth by omission.

    Listing the numbers of Jews able to travel tot eh US in 1924 is hardly relevant now is it? How can this possibly be linked to the Holocaust?

    The Palestinians who entered The West Bank and Gaza via Jordan did so because Jordan were occupying those lands at the time, and most importantly. neither of which belonged to Israel and neither of which were mentioned in the Balfour Declaration.

    The campaign of terror you refer to seems to purposely omit the activities of the Irgun. Benny Morris himself has stated that , "Yes, Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948.” Former Israeli Foreign minister, Shlomo. Ben-Ami, goes further. He said you can see pretty clearly that they intended to expel the Palestinians. The opportunity came along, and they did so.

    How many

    You ask “what is a Palestinian, how many of those who now carry the label Palestinian were such in the years prior to the Holocaust”

    In 1906 there were 700,000 Arabs, 55,000 Jews, and even of those 55,000 Jews, only a handful were Zionists. That presented an obviously problem at the time. How to create a Jewish state in area which is overwhelmingly not Jewish?

    Benny Morris, at one point, said there are only two ways you can resolve this dilemma. One, you can create what he called the South African way, that is, create a Jewish state and disenfranchise the indigenous population. The other way is what he calls the way of transfer. That is, you kick the indigenous population out, basically what happened in North America.

    By the 1930s the Zionist movement had reached a consensus that the way to resolve the dilemma was by way of transfer. Throw the Palestinians out. You can't do that anytime, because there are moral problems and international problems. You have to wait for the right moment. And the right moment comes in 1948. Under the cover of war, you have the opportunity to expel the indigenous population.

  • Ros

    But my point about the chap’s letter, obviously badly put was that he thinks that the “Jewish Homeland” was a result of the Holocaust. It obviously wasn’t.

    Ongoing struggle was meant to mean just that, I think we could agree that both Israel and Palestine are in a deadly struggle.

    The “this campaign of terror and dispossession against an entire people” was the letter writer’s words. Urgun seems a bit out there in that context.

    Jordan and Egypt annexed the West Bank and Jordan in 1948 and lost them to Israel in 1967, well before Oslo.

    This site would seem to admonish us both re figures

    The major conclusion is "The nature of the data do not permit precise conclusions about the Arab population of Palestine in Ottoman and British times" Anyone who pretends otherwise is deliberately misleading you. We can reach some general conclusions – Palestine was not empty when Zionists started arriving, there was some Arab immigration as well etc. But we cannot give a precise number in any case, and even if we could, it would not constitute evidence to back any moral claims.”

    The Ottoman occupation of Palestine ended in WW1 and officially in 1919.

    This site does however maintain that there was considerable Arab migration as well and the reasons were economic.

    “Economic analyses show that by the 1930s the standard of living of Palestinian Arabs was approximately twice that of Arabs in surrounding countries”

    http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm

    All very sad, particularly considering the standard of living for the majority of those living in Palestine today, concrete manufacturers excluded.

  • Addamo

    Fair enough Ros,

    You make a sound argument.

    While it is true that the “Jewish Homeland” was not the result of the Holocaust, it's legitimacy since it's WWII has certainly been founded upon it.

    It also makes perfect sense that the standard of livign for Palestinian Arabs was higher than surrounding countries. There is no dispute that Jewih settlers have created great prosperity in the region.

  • viva peace

    Addamo

    You simple cannot help but constantly shoot yourself in the foot. How many dozen times on this site have you insisted that "nobody is questioning Israel's legitimacy" blah, blah, blah. Yet here you clearly imply that Israel's legitimacy is somehow contingent on the ongoing acceptance of the Holocaust.

    While it is true that the “Jewish Homeland” was not the result of the Holocaust, it’s legitimacy since it’s WWII has certainly been founded upon it.

    How many other members of the UN General Assembly do you attach conditions to for their "legitimacy?" By rights, Israel should have been formed in the 1920s. And whichever history books or gunja our Balmain basketweaving letter-writer has been smoking, somebody needs to tell him to quit!

    The idea that Europeans thought Palestine was empty, or a land without people after WW2 is just bizzare. Certainly no Jewish settlers did; as Ros points out, jews started settling in this region (called the vilayets of Beirut and Damascus, the sanjak of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria); nor did the British think anything of the sorts on the 18th century about Australia.

    WHY would The Herals post a letter that is simply wrong in fact? I'd guess probably because they are equally ignorant!

  • Addamo

    Viva,

    You really go out of your way to be simple minded sometimes don't you?

    I was not referring to my personal position with regard to Israel’s legitimacy. The only parties who have ever raised the question of Israel's legitimacy are apologists like yourself. My position is clear and has never changed. Israel's legitimacy stands apart from the Holocaust. Can I make it any more simple for you?

    It is the Israel amen corner that obsessively conflates Israel's legitimacy and right to exist with the Holocaust, including your idol, Martin Kramer. I consider this to be folly, but that's another matter.

    The idea that Europeans thought Palestine was empty, or a land without people after WW2 is just bizzare.

    I agree, but the point is that someone evidenced decided that those that were populating the land were expendable. You have made your cold blooded contempt and disregard for indigenous people's well known on this forum, but indeed the tribulations in the region are as much the fault of Europe as they are of Israel's subsequent actions. Churchill predicted the subsequent outcomes in his writings, including the inevitable Israeli expansion, decades before it took place.

    WHY would The Herald post a letter that is simply wrong in fact? I’d guess probably because they are equally ignorant!

    Would that be a first for a paper? Come on Viva. Pick up any Murdoch publication any day of the week and it will be littered with falsities and obfuscation. The SMH in this case gave someone a chance to express their opinion – something that you seem obsessively opposed to.

  • orang

    Hey, I hear they're bringing Arik out of retirement. Word is Olmert's walking around the Knesset with a cardboard cutout mask in front of his face is not cutting it. Yeah, they're bringing HIM out of retirement and they've hired the Muppet people to animate appropriate sections of him when required.

    And in today's breaking news, we have a Caussus Belli with Lebanon. Finally.
    Yes, you heard it here first. No, this is not a Pre-Emptive strike.
    We have left the place for so long seeking peace, but now Hizbollah, the Pali's, the Lebanese Gov.t, the Syrians, the Iranians and yes the Lefties near you are responsible and will pay the price.

  • orang

    "All very sad, particularly considering the standard of living for the majority of those living in Palestine today, concrete manufacturers excluded."

    Ha ha ..That's FUNNY!

    Hey wait, what about the prosthetic limb suppliers – Now I bet they got a good standard of living too!! Waaaahaaa. Oooh that was a good one.

  • Ros

    I assume Orang that you are unfamiliar with the Palestinians who have been getting rich supplying the cement for the wall. Well were, I think some of them have been topped hence the others have lost interest.

  • orang

    There's always the whores. No matter what is going on the whores always make a living.

  • Addamo

    Ros,

    What's your obsession with cement for crying out loud? Is that supposed to be some incriminating issue? Talk about clutching at straws!!!

    Bush's grand daddy got rich supporting Ftitz Thiesen and Hitler. US defense contrators sold weaponry to Iraq, which the US military risked having to face during Gul War 1. The CIA is making money selling drugs thorughout the US, in fact. according to a former inside, MI6 controls much of the drug trade in the world.

  • Ros

    Strange attacks you guys make. A passing comment referring to the less than attractive cement supplying Palestinians, with also in mind that while the huge bulk of the Palestinians live in considerable poverty there are also some very rich individuals in Palestine, excites great venom. Why?

    Note, a passing comment. It was Orang that went ballistic. A courteous explanation means Addamo has to launch into a non-sequitor as a demonstration of my perfidy. And somehow George Bush, is he a shareholder in these cement companies? And then there are the whores. Probably not in the Gaza actually Orang. Hamas has very strong views about women and their place and roles in society.

    What straw? For what? Incriminating, to whom for what?

    No comment, not even a minor throw away quip, that might suggest the Palestinians have some less than perfect individuals amongst them who don’t particularly care about their fellow citizens may be tolerated? After all it is not as if I tried to stereotype and call the Palestinians greedy or money grubbing as a people.

    You don’t think holding the CIA and MI6 responsible for the global drug trade is a bit out there. No, you have to be joshing.

  • orang

    Quite right Ros, thank you for pointing it out to us. Why shouldn't the odd Pali make a good living supplying cement to the Wall Builders? (by the way , I thought it was a fence, not a wall. Never mind) That was my point about whores. Every calamity is also an opportunity for someone no matter how odious it may seem. Those cement suppliers will be able to go International pretty soon – Beirut airport I hear will need a bit of a touch up, oh and all the bridges on the way to it. Haw Haw!!

  • Addamo

    You don’t think holding the CIA and MI6 responsible for the global drug trade is a bit out there. No, you have to be joshing.

    Only if you stil believe in the tooth fairy Ros.

    If your comment was in passing, I appologise for my overt reaction, but you appeared to linger on the statement more than once, suggesting you had a point to make.

    There are bad seeds everywhere, at every level. There are Palestinians do bad things to other Palesrtinians. Dare I say it, I'm sure there are peopel willing to do the wong thing by Jews who themselves happen to be Jews.

    In the context of life and death, a minor quip seems hardly justified now does it?

  • Addamo

    Don't foget the Hopsital and University in Gaza too Orang. Now I see what Ros was alluding to when suggesting that the migratino of Jews to the region created economic prosperity.

    While on the subject Ros, I came across this morsel.

    Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel http://www.trumanlibrary.org/israel/declare.htm

    THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

    Whatever happened to this part Ros?

    Or this bit?

    THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

  • orang

    Aha, Addamo, as usual you missed the brilliance of the Israeli negotiators on this.

    Notice ;

    "THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives…"

    Notice it says "the agencies". See how clever that is. It doesn't say "all the agencies" so this means it can be uncooperative. See how it works?

    Similarly it doesn't have to withdraw from "the territories", because we took the "all" out. Aren't we so fucking clever? I can't believe how fucking clever we are. And pure too. Don't forget pure.

  • Ros

    The “fence” (it is often included in the category of walls in the world) may cause hardship but it doesn’t actually kill. How it is that a gibe (quip) at that mob of Palestinians is it seems somehow to be flippant and uncaring (In the context of life and death) to you is unclear to me. I responded to Orang’s angst at the remark, which I don’t see as me lingering. Though I am rather now.

    A joke about Beirut airport is of course a different matter.

    I don’t get your point re

    “The Land of Israel (Hebrew ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael) is a concept in Jewish and Christian thought concerning the area today most closely associated with the State of Israel throughout its history, from Biblical times to the present day.”

    though I guess this might have had something to do with the railroading of that resolution.

    “On the day following the adoption of the UN resolution seven Jews were killed by Arabs in Palestine in three separate incidents: at 8 o'clock in the morning, in what came to be seen as the opening shots of the 1948 War’

    I am aware that the argument about the nature of the State of Israel has been had again and again here. I could only repeat what has been said, and rejected.

  • orang

    See again Addamo. Pure, just pure purity. Just read that statement quickly and you will be convinced that;
    It wasn't until the Arabs killed jews at 8 o'clock in the morning that the 1948 war started. See? Arabs, treacherous!

    And, miraculously, we don't know how, but by the grace of God, here we were surrounded by hostile Arabs, we managed to win that war, and the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that and the one after (how many is that? There was the miracle, the Caussus Belli, the Pre-Emptive strike, 1973 we got lucky, 1982 we kicked arse in Lebanon, does anyone remember them all?)

  • Ros

    How is it that, “what came to be seen as the opening of the 1948 war” is a proposition that gives rise to anger. There is a tendency amongst historians amongst others to define wars as having beginnings and ends. Now maybe Phillip Bobbitt would say otherwise, as in this was just one part of the long war of the 20th century for example. He doesn’t I just suggest it as a different understanding of the nature of modern wars, like as you suggest the 1948 war was one part of a Long War in Palestine that is still to end. But to get angry about the statement.

    Then there are the causes of wars. Again I assume, what is getting to you Orang is that somehow that statement denies those causes you believe brought war to this part of the world. It doesn’t so there is no need to be angry. That statement simply identifies a particular event at a point in time that is identified as the start of that war.

    How to derive a claim to purity for I assume Jews out of it is another struggle for me. It must be exhausting hating so much.

  • Addamo

    It's not hatred Ros,

    Please don't take any of this personally. You strike me as honoroubel and sincere.

    It's simply that in this game of action and reaction spanning the better part of the last century, it strikes most of us as incredibly futile to define the conflict in terms of a beginning, middle and end. While I do not dispute that you are accurately reporting what some historians have documented, there is no disputing that there war violence in the region before 1948, and similarly enthic and tribal tensions and territorial disputes.

    The 1948 date seems so arbitrary. given that the Irgun were operating between 1931 to 1948.

  • orang

    Wow, a rocket hit Haifa.

    Wacko, we're gonna have some fun punishing them for this!

    There'll be round the clock special flights from the US to Israel, squadrons of military cargo planes laden with "goodies" for the Pali's and the Lebs.