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.

Trouble in the Communist “paradise”

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

The suffering of earthquake victims should not mask the authoritarian tendencies of the ruling elite, writes Antony Loewenstein.

The ongoing humanitarian catastrophe after the Sichuan earthquake has revealed a side of China that is rarely glimpsed. After months of controversy over Beijing’s abuses in Tibet and elsewhere – and many Tibetan activists are lamenting the switch of focus – the global community almost seems relieved to be obsessed on something else (though this hasn’t stopped leading actress Zhang Ziyi chastising participants at the recent Cannes Film Festival for knowing little about the disaster.)

Israel has provided aid to victims. Jewish news agency JTA writes: “In a gesture of support, one of the world’s smallest countries is sending aid to the world’s most populous nation in the form of $1.5 million worth of equipment for earthquake relief.”

One American teacher living and working in Beijing wrote in the New York Times: “As tragic as the Sichuan earthquake has been, perhaps it can do some good by helping dispel a widespread myth: that the new generation of Chinese students are materialistic and selfish.” Daniel A. Bell hoped that, “events can dispel another false impression: that young Chinese are xenophobic nationalists who cheer for their country, good or bad.”

Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof expressed a similarly optimistic attitude, though perhaps naively believed that “grass-roots politics” was taking shape in the world’s most populous nation. Although parents who lost children in shoddily constructed schools are demanding action on “tofu” buildings – and bloggers are now harassing corrupt government officials – authoritarian rule is as entrenched as ever.

There is no doubt, however, that China’s rulers, at least briefly, allowed a freer society to be glimpsed and both local and foreign reporters were allowed relatively unfettered access to the disaster zone.

“In the face of such suffering”, writes China’s correspondent for Britain’s Channel 4, Lindsey Hilsum, “it would be heartless and probably over-optimistic to herald the Sichuan earthquake as the beginning of civil society and accountable government in China. And yet, this natural disaster may have done more than years of campaigning by human rights and democracy activists to force the Chinese government to start opening up.”

Realists, however – and my experience tells me that the Chinese Community Party is unlikely to relinquish its grip on power anytime soon – place the regime’s response to the quake in an historical context. Geremie Barme, professor of Chinese history at the Australian National University, says that, “People have responded generously to this vast human tragedy but many are also aware that the Party is zuo xiu, that is ‘putting on a show’ for mass consumption. There’s a tradition reaching back into dynastic times in which power-holders display their virtue through great shows of munificence through disaster relief.”

China’s global, economic power is never far from the surface and Western multinationals have every interest in joining the boom. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Cisco were recently grilled in Congress over their role in China. Revelations about Cisco were particularly worrying, though unsurprising. Money talks the loudest language of all. Calls for US web companies to cease locating servers in repressive regimes is one, solid suggestion.

As the Olympics begin in just over three months, it remains unclear what restrictions journalists will face during the event. Censorship is rife, with a popular bridge-building website between China’s Muslim population and Han Chinese shut down in mid-May.

None of these issues stopped one of China’s most popular websites,, launching an English language version last week. The country’s growth confounds thinkers and critics alike.

After the devastation of the earthquake is long forgotten, the rules of the Chinese game will remain set. Human rights have rarely been a determining factor in capitalist development and Beijing has no desire to change this equation. Mr X, a foreign media entrepreneur based in China, outlined the rules of this (profitable) game:

“Ultimately, to succeed in China, businesses must assume the goals of the Communist Party as their own. One of the first steps into the market for a major multinational is to hire a government-relations director who will interpret China’s policies and articulate the company’s fealty to those policies as its “commitment to China.”

“In fact, conflating the interests of the Chinese Communist Party with the interests of businesses operating in China is what makes China Inc. work. For the last 30 years, China has been building a social system that establishes an identity between business and broader political or social interests.”

no comments – be the first ↪