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.

Shifting sands

My following article appeared in yesterday’s Guardian Comment is Free section:

Western impressions of Saudi Arabia have inevitably changed since September 11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers came from the kingdom and a number of Saudis have been discovered fighting against the Americans in Iraq. Beheadings with a sword in public are routine and the relationship between the Bush administration and the Saudi royal family is highly secretive. Oil does the talking.

Very few western journalists visit the kingdom, but the reality has been far removed from my own preconceptions. It is certainly confronting to see most women wearing the abaya, their face and body completely covered in black. Women can’t work in shops and nor can they drive. Cinemas are non-existent. The searing heat – during my visit it was not unusual to experience 47-degree days and 40 degrees at night – makes so-called normal activities a draining experience. But the kingdom is changing, little recognised in the west.

Blogging has exploded, with estimates of around 4,000-5,000 blogs that are regularly updated. Unlike Iran or Egypt, where bloggers are routinely harassed, jailed and tortured, Saudi Arabia does not imprison bloggers, though many bloggers that I met knew the general boundaries of debate. One can never criticise King Abdullah nor discuss corruption in the royal family. In the last years, however, some bloggers have continued to push the limits of governmental acceptance.

Take Saudi Jeans, the most famous Saudi blog, founded by Ahmed al-Omran three years ago. He is a Shia Muslim in a predominantly Sunni country. He told me that blogging was never going to bring significant change to his country due to the fact that political debate had no precedent in the kingdom, but blogging was starting to give men and women the chance to gradually push for change (though he noted that some bloggers were religious conservatives, opposed to any societal openings). His latest post highlights this growing struggle between reformers and Islamic hard-liners:

Few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine who works in the HQ of the Saudi Hollandi Bank when he told me that squads of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have raided his workplace lately. He said the commission were not happy about the mixed work environment there and demanded that the bank segregate men from women. At that time I thought the bank would ignore the commission’s calls because a) it is none of their business, and b) banks HQ’s have been a mixed work places for years.

There are numerous signs of change in both Jeddah and the capital, Riyadh. A locally-made TV drama discusses the trend of wealthy Saudi women having affairs with their male drivers. A friend here told me that he had attended a lesbian party in Jeddah with hundreds of women, cocaine, hashish, strippers and techno music.

Such events are clearly the exception rather than the rule, but they show, as I discovered in Iran, that the public and private spaces are clearly defined. In more liberal cities like Jeddah, women can be seen wearing a hijab instead of the abaya. It’s said that women are probably driving in the heavily-tinted Mercedes cars seen speeding around the cities. There is now public discussion that women should be allowed to work in shops that sell “female” items, like make-up and lingerie.

Bloggers across the Arab world are challenging the political status-quo like never before, despite the risks in doing so. In Saudi Arabia, I was struck by the highly westernised young people – more so than anywhere else in the region – and the intense desire to change the negative western perceptions of their country. Their view of Washington’s goals was uniformly harsh, however, mainly due to Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and the seemingly unending support for the Saudi regime.

One media analyst told me: “Fifty years ago, Saudi Bedouins were riding around on camels, and now they’re using mobile phones and lap-tops. It will take time for society to catch up with the technology.”

one comment ↪
  • al loomis

    if only equal progress was being made in kansas,