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.

Earthquakes, Twitter and compassion

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

The horrific Chinese earthquake has focused the world’s attention on human suffering, but censorship issues were never far from the surface, writes Antony Loewenstein.

The devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province last week shifted the global focus away from the Beijing Olympics. The regime must be pleased.

Initially, the government sprung into action and allowed the media to report relatively freely about the tragedy. As the New York Times wrote:

“…If China manages to handle a big natural disaster better than the United States handled Hurricane Katrina, the achievement may underscore Beijing’s contention that its largely non-ideological brand of authoritarianism can deliver good government as well as fast growth.”

The domestic leg of the Olympic torch relay was scaled back – after massive online protest – a sure sign that officials were sensitive to public sentiment. Even Premier Wen Jiabao was idolised as a hero for taking a personal interest in the rescue effort (though let’s not forget the far-worse humanitarian crisis in Burma.)

The latest news of the quake was sent via blogs, websites and mobile phones. The mini-blogging tool Twitter was also essential in piecing together the calamity. “The Great Firewall” was showing signs of partial collapse. Some Chinese intellectuals praised the regime for its prompt response.

Soon enough, however, the regime reverted to form, “ensuring that what news does get out is patriotic and uplifting”. China’s chief of propaganda visited the official news agency Xinhua and the CCTV network to inform them of the proper angles of coverage. All major websites were ordered to temporarily close for three days of mourning.

Unsurprisingly, other issues have been ignored, such as Tibet. The role of the Dalai Lama – seemingly caught between appeasing the ever-increasing demands of his younger flock and managing never-ending global adulation – remains central to resolving the crisis. There are growing concerns, however, that his pacifist stance has achieved little in the last decades.

The monks in Tibet itself remain defiant yet terrified. New York Times Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who covertly entered restricted areas, heard reports of Chinese-led brutality. “There won’t be any more protests before the Olympics,” one monk said. “People are just too scared. The pressure is too great.”

Dissenting voices do exist, including this recent essay by a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Zi Zhongjun bravely wrote:

“It’s the 21st Century, and things around us have made great progress. Chinese people have studied the American general elections quite carefully…The countries around us in southeast Asia, including Vietnam, are already out in front. Korea was originally an autocracy, but they’ve crossed that barrier. Russia, regardless of its many problems, or whether people are saying Putin is pulling back rights, they can’t return to the past; they’ve already crossed that barrier.

“Our democracy hasn’t yet crossed that barrier. It’s hard to push forward now. Even if a truly great leader wanted to push forward, it would still be difficult, because so many people with vested interests are blocking it, and there are obstacles both horizontal and vertical at the lower levels. I think the only thing to do is open up public opinion and let that healthy power express itself…If we cannot open up supervision by public opinion in a timely fashion, who knows what will happen next.”

One of the great untold stories in the rise of China is the collusion between US defence contractors and local security services in building a high-tech police state. Canadian writer Noami Klein recently returned from mainland China and painted a picture of a future closer than we may think.

“China today”, she argued, “represents a new way to organize society. Sometimes called ‘market Stalinism,’ it is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarian communism — central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance — harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.”

It is already being exported to a variety of countries around the world, including the West. Let’s not forget this when our officials routinely criticise the human rights abusers residing in Beijing.

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