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.

The great firewall of China

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

In a country where the government maintains a tight grip on information across all media formats, recent statements by a senior Chinese Communist party official were revealing.

Wang Guoqing, a vice-minister with the cabinet’s information office, said that mobile phones and the internet were making the job of censors almost impossible. “It has been repeatedly proved that information blocking is like walking into a dead end,” he said.

Mr Wang chastised local governments for still believing information could be kept secret when, he said, they should see their roles as controlling and managing information rather than simply hiding embarrassing news.

There is a growing realisation within the world’s largest nation that China’s massive online population wants to discuss issues that were taboo only a few years ago. A collection of websites across the country has started to debate endemic corruption of low-level officials, environmental degradation and product regulation. The situation is far more complex than the portrayals by many western observers suggest. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Chinese authorities will accept these changes without a fight.

Take the recent news that authorities in the town of Xiamen are planning to force local bloggers to register with real names. As Time.com‘s China blogs dryly noted: “This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the internet [played] a huge role in the protests that roiled the city in early June when thousands of residents poured on to the streets to denounce a plan to build a chemical factory in a Xiamen suburb.”

It would be practically impossible to implement such rules, but this hasn’t stopped local officials talking about it anyway.

Gary Wang is founder of Tudou, China’s equivalent of YouTube. He told me in Shanghai that government officials called virtually weekly to demand that one video or another be pulled. According to bureaucrats in the censorship department, “red lines” are routinely crossed. Despite 60 million clips viewed daily and 40 million users per month, Wang recognised that the authorities were fighting a battle they could never win, but were unlikely to give up any time soon. It was simply a price of doing business in the country.

It’s something I noticed myself in China, too. There is a profound disconnect between President Hu Jintao‘s calls in January for the internet to only “spread more information that is in good taste” and the reality on the ground. At internet cafes in both Beijing and Shanghai, I saw users accessing softcore pornography and western news sites that are allegedly blocked. The task of monitoring around 140 million net users is an impossibility – something more senior officials may be starting to realise.

With the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games just over one year away, these issues are becoming more relevant than ever. Will the government care that the hordes of foreigners coming for the Olympics may be unable to access vital information online? Perhaps filtering will magically disappear for the two-week event or simply be drastically curtailed. Such “unblocking procedures” are a regular occurrence. For example, the long-banned English Wikipedia is supposedly now available, though last week it was still inaccessible. As one blogger told me, trying to impose logic on a system that was ultimately controlled by the whims of a faceless bureaucrat was pointless.

The rise of China and its massive environmental challenges is already causing some in the west to claim that these problems will keep it from becoming a truly global super-power. This is probably wishful thinking. Controls over the internet (along with blocks on satellite television) may be signs of a nation that is struggling to define itself in the 21st century, but a weakened post-Iraq America suits the Chinese authorities just fine. After all, it was only recently that armchair economists predicted Japan would be the world’s next major player. China doesn’t want to make the same mistakes.

Spend any time with bloggers, writers or journalists and you’ll soon discover that Internet filtering is little more than a distraction, an issue to be circumvented.

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