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.

www.censorship.com

My following article appears in today’s ABC Unleashed:

Fidel Castro controlled Cuba for nearly half a century. His rule was defined by defiance and dictatorship, brutal repression against dissidents and the management of an immoral American embargo. Free speech has always been the Achilles’ heel of the regime.

During my visit to the island last year – researching a book on the internet in non-democratic countries – I saw a population that craved access to the outside world.

Web and mobile phone penetration is the lowest in Latin America. I met computer students who studied the internet, but couldn’t access an unfiltered system. Cyber-rebels are increasingly challenging this information apartheid. I talked with hip-hop kids who loved gangsta rap they saw on satellite television. They cared little for revolutionary thought. Being able to buy consumer goods such as ipods was far more important.

It was a similar pattern across the globe, as I travelled from Egypt to Iran, Syria to Saudi Arabia and finally China.

The internet was playing a leading role in citizens talking to government and often challenging its archaic rules. Some simply wanted to meet boys and girls online. Others loved downloading pirated films and music. Only a handful craved political engagement.

A growing number of repressive regimes are experiencing the “Dictator’s Dilemma” defined in 1993 by Christopher Kedzie as “having to choose between open communications (encouraging economic development) and closed communications (controlling ‘dangerous’ ideas)”.

China maintains the world’s most effective internet censorship, dubbed “The Great Firewall” or “The Golden Shield Project”.

Tens of thousands of people are employed to monitor web traffic. Western companies such as Cisco, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have willingly assisted officials in their goals and sensitive subjects such Taiwan, Tibet and democracy are routinely excised.

Over 210 million Chinese netizens – with 200,000 more going online for the first time every day – are leading a massive shift in the country’s relationship with central power, both allowing the regime a unique way to gauge public opinion and an opportunity for others to challenge corruption and pollution.

Although China is preparing for the likely onslaught of international pressure during the August Olympics over its human rights violations, the Communist nation is only the most infamous example of internet censorship.

Iran, especially under the leadership of hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has led a purging of journalists, dissidents, prominent women and unionists.

Although the country’s online culture is arguably one of the most robust in the Middle East – and I met many bloggers there who bravely challenged the mullah’s grip on power – Western companies are contributing to the country’s isolation.

Yahoo and Microsoft quietly removed Iran from the country lists of their webmail services last year, claiming US sanctions forced their hand. My investigations suggest that these moves were probably a pre-emptive buckle, fearful of Bush administration sanction. Google’s Gmail service still features Iran on its country list.

Internet censorship is becoming a key human rights issue around the world, highlighted by leading NGOs and the European Union.

In a new book titled Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Policy, writers Ronald Deibart and Rafal Rohozinski remain optimistic that despite the best efforts of many dictatorial regimes, “it seems apparent that no one agent will be able to dominate cyberspace entirely, but many will be able to push technologies, regulations, and norms that affect it.”

I spent time in Saudi Arabia with leading blogger and activist Fouad al-Farhan. He is a Muslim moderate who campaigns for the establishment of democratic institutions in the US-backed dictatorship. He was arrested in late 2007 and remains imprisoned for unspecified “crimes” but sources suggest it is because he campaigned for the release of jailed activists.

Farhan’s writings provide an invaluable insight into one of the most repressive nations on earth.

Cinemas and music concerts are banned. Women are not allowed to drive or work in most industries. He told me about the ways in which some of his friends and families wanted to embrace gradual change while others desired going to Iraq and fighting the American “invaders”.

Without bloggers in Saudi Arabia, we would have little idea of the nation’s true state.

The internet will not automatically democratise all societies or bring Western-style reform. Many bloggers and activists I met across the world hoped for the exact opposite.

Its uncontrolled unpredictability has proven to the mainstream media that local voices will usually trump their own superficial understandings.

5 comments ↪
  • What about Western censorship. Yesterday I watched a video on Youtube from PatriotsMaxim about the 40th anniversary of the My Lai massacre. When I returned there today I discovered that it has been suspended, apparently not for the first time. Strange indeed. It even disappeared from my Firefox history. We seem to live with a global big brother these days.

  • Tim Anderson

    Interesting how Anthony became an instant expert on Cuba, after a two week trip, where he was immediately linked up with the Miami backed network of 'independent journalists', paid by US Government. ‘Reporters Without Borders’ has a ‘freedom of the internet campaign’, also funded by the US government, one part of it aimed at Cuba. Anthony: who funded *your* brief trip to Cuba?

  • Tim Anderson

    thanks for that Anthony
    notice that I raised questions (not 'facts') about your trip, because
    – your project so closely resembles the RSF project – much the same countries
    – a large number of journalists have in fact been taking State Dept, USAID and RSF money to write about Cuba
    – you (like Paul McGeogh before you) did in fact link up with people who are in fact paid by the US government
    thanks for the lecture on Cuba, I think I have seen a bit more of the country than you, over the past decade
    you have recycled a few cliches about the country and rarely use evidence, except the occasional anecdote
    a bad journalistic habit that, trying to prove points with anecdotes
    as for your asserted track record – I don't think anything in one's real or imagined reputation insulates them from questions
    especially when they join in imperial-driven campaigns
    best wishes
    Tim

    On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 5:05 PM, Antony Loewenstein wrote:

    Dr Anderson,

    This is an email that I would rather not have to write, but your insistent comments about my visit to Cuba warrant a response. Your constant statements, publicly and privately, that my 2007 visit to Cuba was paid for by the US or some US-affiliated group is both defamatory and an outright lie. My publisher, Melbourne University Publishing, provided an advance and I spent the money, along with my own savings, on my overseas travels. Nobody else contributed a cent to my four-month journey.

    My forthcoming book, due in September, takes a critical look at the role of the internet in one-party states, including Cuba (and also Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China). Despite the many advances in Castro's Cuba – social welfare system, its solidarity with other Latin American and Third World countries, and of course, my support of Cuba's sovereignty against US intervention and its criminal blockade – there are fundamental problems with freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association. You remain mute on these matters, embarrassingly writing in 2005 that that the country's media has no, "mind numbing, commercial advertising." Well, yes, but robust political debate remains an impossibility, and allegiance to the Castro "brand" is essential.

    Political prisoners are a reality, yet you deny this, too (and they aren't all involved in trying to overthrow the regime). Elections are not free and fair. Clearly you have no issue with a regime allowing one man, Fidel Castro, to run the country for nearly 50 years. These are all the tell-tale signs of a police state.

    These are points often made by writers such as Noam Chomsky and Eduardo Galeano, hardly figures that could be accused of taking dollars from Washington; people who do not offer unqualified support of Cuba. The recent debate on Cuba in the UK-based Red Pepper magazine is another example of important and necessary debates over Castro's legacy.

    I have never claimed to be an expert on Cuba, but my work focuses on the ability of the web to challenge authoritarianism, something that a blind man can see exists in Cuba. Some critics within Cuba are not on the US payroll, many of whom I did meet.

    As somebody who has spent most of my professional career taking risks for defending the dispossessed, including the Palestinians and others in the Middle East – and receiving regular hate-mail and death threats in the process – a lack of intellectual curiosity or rigour towards Cuba only leads praise of the Castro regime. Supporting elements of the Revolution does not mean ignoring the negative sides of its history.

    I look forward to you contributing to another best-seller in The Blogging Revolution.

    Yours sincerely,

    Antony Loewenstein

  • Tim Anderson

    BTW Anthony , re your comment "elections are not free and fair" in Cuba – have you ever seen an election in Cuba? do you know how they work? do you know how the candidates are chosen and how elections take place? you say "one man" has run the country for 50 years – do you know what powers the national assembly has? what do you know of the other Cuban ministers? You say "robust political debate" remains an impossibility – Anthony, do you speak or read Spanish? have you read any Cuban debates? All these are assertions without any indication of evidence – I look forward to a clarification of where these assertions come from. Or are you are a journalist who needs no evidence? all is self-evident? – best wishes – Tim

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