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.

Postcard from Iran

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The Islamic Republic of Iran operates in a completely different universe.

Most Iranians are utterly removed from Western stereotypes – the vast majority I have met are opposed to the authoritarian rule of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his recent attempts to crackdown on all forms of opposition.

That said, their view of Washington and its intentions are uniformly negative — a variety of journalists, editors and bloggers are openly fearful of a US strike on their country’s nuclear facilities. As leading female journalist and blogger Azadeh Akbari told me, “how can we trust anything America says when we see what they’ve done to Iraq and Palestine?”

Over the weekend I spoke to the country’s former Vice President in Parliamentary Legal Affairs under previous President Khatami, Mohammed Ali Abtahi.

A leading reformist blogger, he said that although the country’s current problems with the West were highly unfortunate, there was a public mood for more moderate leadership, while still maintaining strong Islamic traditions.

Not that you’d get this impression watching state-run television or reading government-owned newspapers, where the United States and the “illegitimate Zionist regime” of Israel are blamed for every conceivable problem in the region. Although such labeling is tiresome, it underlines the paranoid nature of the hardliners. Any foreigner is a potential spy (the recent arrests of various Iranian-Americans on spurious charges highlights this position).

One of the most intriguing aspects of contemporary Iran is the way in which the internet is filtered. For example, type “Dick Cheney” or “Hitchcock” into a Google search engine and the sites will be blocked simply because the words “c-ck” and “d-ck” are suspect.*

Likewise with a host of other s-x-related words. But the censorship is not consistent. The vast majority of Australian news-sites are unavailable (especially the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian) but the Israeli press in English is viewable.

Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, blogger and urbane editor of the country’s largest youth magazine, Chelcheragh, said that trying to impose logic on a random system was pointless. The increased involvement of Western multinationals in the filtering process – Swedish masters student Jonathan Lundqvist has done some fine research on this growing business — adds a global level to this insidious practice. OpenNet Initiative has also studied the ways in which many countries around the world are now viewing the internet as a threat to their undemocratic rule.

Like countries where I’ve recently conducted similar research on net censorship and controlling dissent such as Egypt and Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran strikes me as acting in a predictably schizophrenic way. On the one hand, wanting to embrace the new technology to propagate its message – the mullahs here are highly sophisticated at both training young bloggers and highlighting their writings in the conservative press – yet also suspicious of ever-growing Western influences in film, music, fashion and social-networking sites (MySpace and Facebook are blocked, though friends here tell me that it’s easy to find proxies to get around the problem.)

*CRIKEY: Yes, we understand the irony here. Though we’d love to write c-ck and d-ck in full, Crikey is too often knocked back by over-zealous spam filters (hence the hyphenation). They’re not, however, as far as we know, controlled by the government — yet.

2 comments ↪