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.

Growth + power = abuse?

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

China’s rapid growth is often forgotten when analysing the country’s human rights record, but these issues should not be ignored in the rush for super-power status, writes Antony Loewenstein.

Amidst all the current stories about China and the Beijing Olympics, it’s easy to forget that the country has progressed extraordinarily fast in the past decade. Some facts are in order:

  • 30,000: The expected number of Chinese MBA graduates in 2008. The number in 1998: 0
  • 500: The number of coal-fired power plants China plans to build in the next decade
  • 540 million: Number of mobile phone users in China, with an increase of 44 million in the past six months
  • 33: The number of Chinese journalists thought to be held in prisons in 2008
  • 22: The number of suicides per 100,000 people, about 50 per cent higher than the global average. Suicide is the fifth most common cause of death in China, and the first among people aged between 20 and 35
  • 30: The number of different animal penises on the menu at Guolizhuang, Beijing’s ‘penis emporium’. A yak’s costs about £15, while a tiger’s (which must be pre-ordered) will set you back £3,000

The rise of China continues to fascinate and frustrate the world. Very few other nations would warrant leading articles discussing the “dark side” of its existence.

Of course, China has come a long way in the last years, something revealed by this hilarious news story from 1982 about “sexy adverts” upsetting a Chinese workman. At that stage, advertising had only returned to public visibility after years of being banned as a “bourgeois capitalist practice.”

The last months have revealed intense anger towards perceived Western-led, anti-Chinese media coverage. Death threats against foreign journalists is increasing, according to a recent warning issued by the Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents Club. Chinese bloggers want to talk about patriotism and protestors in Korea who attacked Chinese students during the torch relay. Interestingly, Vietnamese bloggers recently expressed their displeasure about past Chinese behaviour.

Despite these issues, however, the regime is busily trying to present a welcoming face to the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected in August. The news that authorities won’t guarantee web freedom during the Games is a bad omen as is the arrest of yet another freelance writer. Zhou Yuanzhi was charged with “inciting subversion of state power.”

Tibet remains a thorn in the side of the authorities (and a provocative piece in last week’s Financial Times argued that the province had a stronger international law case for self-rule than Kosovo). The Dalai Lama and his cause are still misunderstood in the West. The leader of the Tibetan people is angry towards China but remarkably conciliatory. The charged area of Xinjiang remains under the Chinese jackboot.

While the political masters attempt to avoid potential embarrassments, Western multinationals continue to operate like business as usual (despite Google being investigated by Chinese officials for possibly breaching state secrecy laws by showing “illegal” maps of the country.)

Google co-founder Sergei Brin told last week’s shareholder meeting that he was “pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in China…Google has a far superior track record than other internet search companies in China.” What’s a little censorship when there is money to be made? Unveiling a translation service to rival search engine’s Baidu’s dominance is a clear sign of future directions. At least Reporters Without Borders asked a few pointed questions at the Adidas shareholders meeting about the company’s attitude to human rights abuse in China. They received little positive response.

The Western fear of China is never far below the surface, however. China bashing is the favoured sport of the American presidential nominees but achieves little. Respectful dialogue between the various sides is the only rational way forward.

one comment ↪
  • An excellent article Antony.

    China deserves some credit where it is due. Although the activities of China's intelligence service (MSS) against dissidents in Australia are bad news.

    Checkout my OLO article http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=
    if you haven't already.

    Regards

    Peter Coates