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.

Anna Politkovskaya’s legacy

My following article appears in today’s Crikey newsletter:

The recent murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has triggered, albeit briefly, an unprecedented interest in life under Vladimir Putin.

The Sydney Morning Herald has provided particularly decent coverage of Politkovskaya’s death, but perhaps unsurprisingly failed to continue interest beyond the requisite few days. There is much of this story that remains untold here.

The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum reminded us that despite not being “charismatic” – though I disagree with this assessment, as Politkovskaya was highly engaging during our time together in Sydney earlier in the year – “she was proof… that there is nothing quite so powerful as the written word.”

The Russian author was murdered just days before her newspaper was to run an expose into Russian-controlled Chechnya. Its leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, is alleged to be torturing an entire generation of young Chechens, causing unprecedented levels of abuse, killing and intimidation. Her final unfinished article paints a grim picture of Putin’s war against terrorism:

Dozens of files cross my desk every day. They are copies of criminal cases against people jailed for “terrorism” or refer to people who are still being investigated. Why have I put the word “terrorism” in quotation marks here?

Because the overwhelming majority of these people have been “fitted up” as terrorists by the authorities. In 2006 the practice of “fitting up” people as terrorists has supplanted any genuine anti-terrorist struggle. And it has allowed people who are revenge-minded to have their revenge – on so-called potential terrorists.

The latest reports suggest that Politkovskaya obtained video evidence that allegedly showed Kadyrov kidnapping two civilians. Was this the reason behind her murder?

Putin’s response to her death was muted, although the Russian public are still enraged. Putin expressed regret, but claimed she had “minimal influence on Russian political life” and her assassination had caused more grief to Russia than her journalism. It was a typically cynical statement. This response caused a leading Russian human rights campaigner this week to resign his post as a Kremlin advisor.

The most moving discovery since Politkovskaya’s death has been the publication of an essay for an English PEN compilation, due in 2007, and written in August. “I am a pariah”, she begins. She accurately predicts that her life is likely to be extinguished because the Russian establishment hates her vehemently. Until the end, she remained resolute in the face of such threats:

So what is the crime that has earned me this label of not being “one of us”? I have merely reported what I have witnessed, no more than that… I am not an investigating magistrate but somebody who describes the life around us for those who cannot see it for themselves, because what is shown on television and written about in the overwhelming majority of newspapers is emasculated and doused with ideology. People know very little about life in other parts of their own country, and sometimes even in their own region.

3 comments ↪
  • I was very moved reading several examples of Anna P's writing on Chechnya in John Pilger's Tell Me No Lies. A picture emerged of a highly motivated journalist, possibly even an obsessive one, unflinching in her portrayal of topics that were unpopular with the government in Russia. Importantly, she wrote revealingly about Russia's murderous campaign in Chechnya, its heartbreaking impact on ordinary people, the stories that we never really heard here. Whilst the siege of the Moscow theatre and of the school in Beslan were big news here, we didn't get the background, the Russian atrocities that drove these ordinary Chechnyans to such horrible and desperate acts. Instead it was presented as just another mad, murderous terrorist act without any sort of justification. Maybe they just "don't know how good we are" to quote Bush? Like Israel in Palestine, Russia seamlessly dovetailed their murder, torture and repression in Chechnya into the broader bogus War on Terror, with the willing connivance of Bush, Blair, and co. This War on Terror thing, it's whatever you want to be, whatever atrocities you want to commit, as long as you're on the right side.

    In the end there was a horrible inevitability to Anna P's death, may it not be completely in vain.

  • Dani

    I was told quite a long time ago, that no media are permitted any access when Russians were fighting Chechnyans. Media are kept well away. I assumed that Australians were aware of this, but no write-ups condemning this in the various media, that I am aware about, occurred. I am more surprised at the Austraiian public's shock at what happened, than surprised at the murder of Anna Politkovskaya herself. But we tend to be a parochial lot don't we. If we are not involved in some way, it doesn't really exist.

  • Pingback: The journalist, the spy and Vladimir Putin at Antony Loewenstein()