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.

Love-in for Robert Hughes at launch

My following article appears in today’s Crikey newsletter:

In his just-released memoir, Things I Didn’t Know, Robert Hughes, the Australian-born and New York-based author, art critic and perennial stirrer, recalls his near-death in 1999 from a horrific car accident in Western Australia. He once told Sunday’s then host Jana Wendt about the event:

A lot of Australian journalism is fuelled by… schadenfreude, which is that expressive German term, as you know, for taking delight in the misfortune of others. The Australian editors, now more than they used to, feel they have to see blood in the water.

Hughes’s love/hate relationship with Australia – best expressed in his book The Fatal Shore – and a self-described “print a-sehole”, the Times art critic is currently in Australia to launch his new book.

Last night at the palatial Art Gallery of NSW, the pouring rain didn’t dull the sense of occasion for the 130 assembled guests who included Tom Kenneally, Frank Moorhouse, Catharine Lumby, Andrew Denton, Jana Wendt, David Malouf, Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull and Deborah Thomas.

Jennifer Byrne introduced the frail-looking Hughes and gushed like a schoolgirl. She recalled first meeting him in her 20s and being seduced by his wit and worldliness.

Hughes – who memorably told Salon years ago that he was an unashamed child of the 1960s and “when an artist says that I am conservative, it means that I haven’t praised him recently” – had just arrived from Los Angeles a few hours before. He was jetlagged and wobbly on his feet, but he delivered a short, pithy speech.

When somebody writes a memoir, he said, they’d either run out of ideas or suffered narcissism. He seemed unsure which label applied to himself but was proud of the work (the first in a series). The writing process made an author “feel like you’re on the couch of a non-existent psychologist to find details of your life” and sometimes those details were hazy at best. Writing was “both a pain in the ar-e and a pleasure.”

I was struck by the reverential way in which the audience lapped up Hughes, some of whom were too young to really remember his impact on the Australian cultural scene. Not unlike many other expats who escaped Australia in past decades, Hughes’s feeling towards his birth nation remains unresolved. During his speech, a grinning Malcolm Turnbull and buoyant Andrew Denton proved that Hughes still clearly occupies a special place in the hearts of many from across the political spectrum.

2 comments ↪
  • Hughes is a poor man's Gore Vidal, although both men operate within similar frameworks. Both are shit stirrers. Both are privileged white men who aren't particularly happy with the way their societies have turned out.

    Yet their positions of privilege have afforded them much space to be heard, and its arguable that, in the end, all they've ever done is develop space for their own thoughts. A developed, intellectual form of narcissim if you like.

    Having said all that, I think Vidal has played a more important role in trying to understand the social and political influences that shape and develop society (especially the US). Hughes on the other hand seems to have specialised in flippantry and pissing people off with his unflappable sense of self importance. In Hughes I see similarities with Christopher Hitchens. A man with progressive roots but with expectations and an ego that can only be satisfied in a life of privilege.

    To put it in classical Australian terms, he's a bit of a tosser that Robert Hughes.

  • Hughes signed my book while I visited San Francisco several weeks ago. I have read every book he has written with the exception of an out-of-print title "Lucien Freud". In his memoirs (quite a departure from the man we have come to respect for putting the unfortunate state of the arts in its place, if just for a moment) his genius shines through in several chapters including the flooding of Florence and the recollections of his deceased father and uncle both in Paris and during WWI- very moving indeed. Here we see that Hughes is at his top form when the subject matter diverts him from his poison pen accounts of his first wife and others mentioned in the book, requiring a true "Hughes fan" such as myself, to skip around to find the good bits.

    He is a truly lucky man, cutting a wide swath with his tremendous talent and ego to match, supporting himself as the 'accidental critic' at Time Magazine, once known as the bastion for the big white male chest- thumpers, he became an icon in his own right.

    When reading your piece about his reception at the Art Gallery of NSW, I wonder where his biggest asset happened to be, that is, his wife, Doris. The New York Times featured them in a recent article as did a story passed on to me in last months AWW and she is not a wife you would want to leave home. She is also left out of the dedication of the book after helping him through the nightmarish aftermath of the accident. Is she a ruse or is this another marriage he may arrogantly take for granted? I hope she is enjoying herself, wherever that may be.