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.

Free speech, Beijing-style

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

One-party rule is here to stay, but cracks are starting to appear, writes Antony Loewenstein.

For anybody thinking of attending the Beijing Games, China this week announced, in Chinese, the rules of the game. Religious or political banners are banned, presumably aimed at protestors keen to highlight the plight of the Tibetans, Sudanese or Uighurs.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, added his wishful thinking to the announcement: “A person’s ability to express his or her opinion is a basic human right and as such does not need to have a specific clause in the Olympic Charter because its place is implicit.” I look forward to Mr. Rogge forcefully advocating the rights of the Dalai Lama during the track and field events.

None of these human rights concerns is overly worrying many of the Olympic corporate sponsors, however. “We think the Beijing Olympics will be a great success”, said a General Electric spokeswoman. The key aim is to lure the millions of newly rich Chinese citizens. New customers are for the taking.

The consumerism of the Chinese population is routinely misunderstood. Greater economic freedom is largely not leading to stronger demands for political rights. John Lee, in a paper released last week by the conservative think-tank the Centre for Independent Studies, perfectly articulates what I discovered during my investigations in China last year:

“The rise of an alternative to the Western liberal model of development – the so-called Beijing consensus – has been the unexpected consequence of China’s rise and is proving a difficult ideational challenge for the West. Where once we placed our hopes on the me generation to push for political change, we must now confront the fact that China’s young elites believe working within a one-party state is the better bet for their and the country’s future.”

While dissent from the party line is now far more easily read thanks to the internet, most netizens are happy to meet boys and girls online, talk to friends, watch movies and buy products. Democratic reform is the furthest thing on their minds, either through inertia, happiness or fear. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s recent entry into Facebook land is merely a clever ploy by the regime to seem in touch with the mood of the young.

What is changing in China, on a fundamental level, is the rise of crowd-sourcing, the growing phenomenon of online crowds gathering through blogs, bulletin boards, chat rooms and instant messaging. The Sichuan earthquake has provided a recent example. China Supertrends blog explains:

“The human search engine has been operating in China, for good and for ill, for at least a year or two already. We profiled several such instances in our book, such as the Kitten Killer of Hangzhou and the infamous Chinabounder blog, both of which involved an intensive human-assisted search that sometimes bordered on a lynch-mob mentality. There are numerous other cases: The South-China Tiger photogate and, in 2008, the misidentification of an Olympic torch relay protester, the 1970’s-style ’struggling against’ a Chinese student studying in America, and the ‘I (Heart) China’ movement that spread like wildfire over MSN to millions of Chinese users in two days.”

These developments, while not radically challenging the ruling elite, is gradually eroding the power of the state and increasing the power of individuals to act together with others. How such moves may affect the mass arrival of Facebook in China remains to be seen.

Overall, like most leading powers, Beijing is happy to use the “war on terror” rhetoric against real and perceived enemies. In the lead-up to the August Games, expect peaceful protests to be viewed as a threat to the one-state ideal. We can gently encourage the regime to understand that such moves only demean its claims of becoming a truly modern state.

one comment ↪
  • Hey Ant.: Really interesting stuff. I wonder _why_ this "Chinese consensus" thing has developed. Any feel for that? The culture of authority in Chinese history? I don't want to oversimplify, but it's difficult for me to understand and I wish I did.