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.

Towards Beijing: March 2008 update

My following article appears in the Amnesty International Australia’s Uncensor campaign about human rights in China:

Human rights activists have dubbed the Beijing Games the “Genocide Olympics” over concerns of China’s involvement in the Darfur crisis. The situation there is worsening by the day. Human Rights First claims that China is arming the conflict.

The recent resignation of filmmaker Steven Spielberg as an artistic advisor to the event only heightened fears that China’s rapid push towards economic development has come at the cost of human lives around the world. Human rights group Reporters Without Borders says that, “the influence of China in African affairs has been very toxic for democracy”.

One Chinese blogger sarcastically praised the regime for successfully shielding its citizens from the realities of his country’s foreign policy. The Communist regime is desperate to keep politics and sport diametrically opposed. Human Rights Watch has publicly stated that this is impossible.

The internet has allowed Chinese citizens the opportunity to challenge some of the strict doctrines in the daily media. China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, was recently forced to run a rare apology after doctoring an image of Tibetan wildlife grazing near a high-speed train. Web users spotted the deception and caused a massive online campaign against the use of Photoshop. It was just one example of the relatively new Chinese public phenomenon of activism, albeit of the non-political kind.

The international community is increasingly concerned over the role of Western multinationals in China’s web filtering. The European Union is currently discussing the imposition of trade barriers for firms that conduct business in nations that restrict free speech. A number of Chinese dissidents, based in the United States, have announced they will sue Yahoo!. The men claim that the internet company removed their names from search returns without legally valid reasons and they risk arrest if they return to the homeland.

Bad publicity is clearly a worry for Yahoo! The company’s Chief Executive, Jerry Yang, has written to the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and asked the Bush administration to lobby the Chinese regime to release dissidents imprisoned after the collusion of his company. The firm spent US$1.6 million in 2007 pressuring the American government in relation to the foreign jurisdiction over US companies.

The Chinese regime fears an avalanche of negative publicity in the coming months. The recent explosion of Tibetan protests both inside Tibet and China itself – with a growing number of young Tibetans rejecting the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” towards China – led to a predictable Chinese media onslaught against the uprising. Numerous websites were blocked, including YouTube, and Yahoo! and Microsoft (briefly) appeared to assist the regime in searching for “suspects” in the demonstrations. The vast majority of Chinese bloggers supported the crackdown but an international poll found many global citizens were critical of Chinese policies towards Tibet.

Tightening the limits of free speech online is the officially favoured method of social control. It is bound to fail, not least because users have developed their own language to circumvent the filtering. But the regime is determined, nonetheless. Witness this recent announcement:

“News from the Ministry of Public Security is that 13 Chinese ministries have been taking a joint action since last month to regulate online order, with the emphasis being given to the cleaning out of such content as candid snapshots, nude pictures and “unhealthy” adult literature.”

“During the campaign, the Chinese ministries will focus on cracking down on four kinds of illegal behaviour, including spreading abundant erotic information to make profit by taking advantage of Internet and mobile phones; launching bawdry websites in a foreign country to spread unhealthy content to and develop members in China; organizing obscene online performances or prostitution-related activities; and committing such crimes as online fraud, theft, gambling and sale of forbidden goods.”

“In addition, the ministries will clean out vulgar content such as candid snapshots, nude and adult literature from websites and shut down blogs that help transmit erotic graphics and text. They will ask search engine service providers to take measures to block unhealthy content within the given deadlines and completely eliminate those erotic websites.”

Australia’s former Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, told a conference in Taiwan in late February that China had pledged to improve its human rights record but there was no evidence to support this idea. In fact, the opposite was occurring. He listed the various ways in which citizens were denied basic civil and political liberties – including the refusal to hold open and free elections and the lack of freedom of speech – and put forward a number of demands that Beijing could adopt. These included:

  • The cessation of hostilities against Falun Gong practitioners.
  • The withdrawal of economic and political aid to the Sudanese government.
  • The granting of amnesty to all political prisoners.
  • A moratorium on the death penalty in 2008.

Although the regime has recognised the importance of citizens engaging with officials – netizens were allowed to post questions and advice for Premier Wen Jinbao in early 2008 – these developments are minimal. The success of China’s internet repression is due to a savvy combination of societal pressure and self-censorship. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been employed to manage “security” during the Games. Curiously, the BBC English website became available in late March after years of censorship.

Rumours are currently circulating that engineers with some of China’s biggest technology companies have been tasked to unblock internet access during the August Games, allowing foreigners an unfiltered experience at some internet cafes and conference centres and through access jacks in hotels. The coming period will reveal the lengths to which the Chinese authorities will go to hide its crackdown on dissidents, journalists, human rights activists and the poor. The initial signs are not encouraging.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based journalist, blogger and author

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