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.

Edgar and Adams talk up a storm about TV

My following article appeared in yesterday’s Crikey newsletter:

During Wednesday’s Sydney launch of Patricia Edgar’s book Bloodbath – a tale of her years in TV, including being founding director of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation – ABC broadcaster Phillip Adams remarked that “nothing prepares you for the savagery of TV” in both the commercial world and ABC.

The event at Gleebooks attracted a small but loyal older crowd of people who were treated to an informal conversation between old friends.

Edgar’s book (extracted here) traverses the birth of independent Australian television. She said that even as recently as the 1980s, women behind the camera were objects of ridicule.

Edgar grew up believing through movies that everything in the US was great, but soon realised that Australia had to tell its own stories. Adams reminded the audience that only four local original plays were produced in the country during the entire 1960s. Many actors never played Australian roles and the ABC was “mock BBC”.

Adams said that when he was trying to build the film industry – and admitted children’s content was an embarrassing early omission – the greatest opposition came not from Sir Frank Packer but the ABC, so keen were they to maintain an entertainment monopoly.

Edgar remained highly critical of an industry that she said failed to provide suitable and stimulating programming for children. She gave context through the story of how the ABC initially rejected Sesame Street as unsuitable for kids and she writes in her book that, “today children spend more time with machines than with their parents. From infancy they are branded from head to toe as walking advertisements for global corporations.”

Perhaps the funniest anecdote of the evening was when Adams told of being with ALP figure Barry Jones in Prague in 1971 and meeting a UCLA professor who showed them a pilot of Sesame Street. It was a revelation, and they wondered when it would appear in Australia. There was much local resistance to come.

Edgar’s gloomy conclusions aren’t matched by others in the popular culture arena and at times she seems to dangerously veer towards romanticising the past. Academic Catharine Lumby wrote in the Good Weekend in June that although children are indeed bombarded with unprecedented levels of popular culture, there was no evidence that literacy was falling. “Research showing that TV can be good for kids if used wisely…doesn’t make for good headlines”, she wrote.

one comment ↪
  • melanie

    although children are indeed bombarded with unprecedented levels of popular culture, there was no evidence that literacy was falling

    I haven't read what Ms Lumby wrote, but surely there is a non sequitur in this statement. Literacy is a skill that provides access to a range of sources of information and knowledge, including popular, classical, academic, technical, fiction, non-fiction, etc, etc., literatures. It's what you read that counts, not whether you can read it.

    I read somewhere recently that watching more than an hour of TV a day makes you dumber. I don't know if they controlled for 'independent' vs Murdoch programs.