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.

Raging against rising internet repression

My following article appears in the US magazine The Nation on the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit and the issue of web repression:

During the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008–sponsored by Harvard University and Google in Budapest, Hungary, in late June, and attended by over 200 bloggers, human rights activists, writers, journalists, hackers and IT experts from every corner of the globe–one participant joked that it was worthwhile buying domain names for dissidents likely to be imprisoned. “Just get them with ‘Free (insert name here).com,’ ” he said.

A recent University of Washington report found that 64 people have been arrested for blogging their political views since 2003. Three times as many people were arrested for blogging about political issues in 2007 than in 2006. More than half of the arrests since 2003 were made in Iran, China and Egypt. Internet censorship has become a cause with global relevance.

I was invited to present a paper at the two-day event that covered the research for my forthcoming book, The Blogging Revolution, on the Internet in repressive regimes, plans by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to combat Internet child pornography, and my work with Amnesty International Australia on its campaign against Chinese web filtering, Uncensor.

The goal of Global Voices, started in late 2004, is to provide insights into non-Western nations to Western audiences through country-specific blogs. The last years have seen its agenda expand to include a translation service for multiple languages, Global Voices Lingua , support for minorities in developing nations (the Rising Voices project) and Voices without Votes, the chance for global citizens to comment on the 2008 US presidential election campaign in every country except America.

The Budapest summit featured bloggers and activists from places as diverse as Madagascar, India, Belarus, Kenya, Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Armenia, Egypt, Iran and China. It was constantly stressed that although the Internet can’t bring democratic reform on its own– only citizens of a country have the right to determine a political system, not outside forces–it is allowing on-the-ground organizations to challenge corruption, fraudulent elections and police-led torture. Populations are being empowered.

Although everybody I met came from varied backgrounds, from the elites to indigenous communities using new technology to find a voice in a country like Bolivia, the sense of community was palpable. What can an Australian journalist like myself really understand about democratic struggles in Iran and Bangladesh? By sharing stories, it soon became clear that many speakers related to others on the opposite side of the globe. Tools such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, e-mail, FeedBurner and text messaging were common denominators used by a minority online community to challenge state-run, media lies.

Nobody talked about revolution or massive social change, but rather the ability to become engaged in a process usually reserved for an unelected class. In Morocco, for example, bloggers filmed corrupt policemen taking bribes and posted them on YouTube. “Targuist Sniper” inspired many others to act similarly, and the short videos have been watched millions of times. One female Egyptian blogger posted photos of police torture by tagging her entries with the names of the accused officials. Some of this evidence was used in a court of law. Two close US allies were forced to publicly respond to internal pressure.

Numerous sessions revealed insights into societies all too easily categorized as oppressive. Iranian exile Hamid Tehrani revealed that the regime, now with one of the most effective web-filtering systems outside of China, bans many anti-George W. Bush sites such as Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and The Huffington Post but allows a neocon and prowar site such as Pajamas Media to remain uncensored. It was a typically illogical move.

Only last week Iranian members of parliament announced a draft bill that aims to “toughen punishment for disturbing mental security in society.” The text of the bill would add “establishing websites and weblogs promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy” to the list of crimes punishable by execution.

The perception of the Internet in various countries remains troubling. Singaporean blogger Au Wai Pang said that the tool is “free” in his country, “but people behave like it is not.” Self-censorship is a key barrier to open debate. Au reminded the Budapest audience that technology isn’t always the answer to censorship issues. “How do you change people’s minds,” he asked, “[for] many who don’t believe in a society with free speech?” Nothing beats face-to-face interaction, but the web has become a space where citizens can voice their opinions and have them respected often for the first time.

A number of prominent Kenyan bloggers, including Ory Okolloh and Daudi Were, discussed the role of new technology in the aftermath of the stolen election in late 2007. With only 7-10 percent web penetration in the country, bloggers on election day woke up early to film people waiting patiently in line to vote. Some were even embedded with foreign observers and could immediately report, via SMS and Twitter, irregularities in the counting process. International support in the Diaspora was crucial to highlight this relatively stable nation descend into ethnic chaos.

Blogger Luis Carlos Diaz, from Venezuela, debunked many of the Western myths about President Hugo Chávez. “The problem is we have too much petroleum,” Diaz lamented. Although critical of many of his policies, Diaz said that Chávez was a democratically elected leader who wasn’t quashing freedom of speech. “Voting is a sport in Venezuela,” he said. To remain awake during the weekly eight-hour diatribes by Chávez on state television, bloggers were providing an alternative perspective on issues that matter to average citizens, such as poverty, housing and education. Diaz said he’d recently spoken to workers whose job is to transcribe Chávez’s speeches. They usually last around 3,000 pages every week.

Unsurprisingly, China featured prominently in the sessions. Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN journalist and now academic in Hong Kong, stressed that debate had to progress past who is more “brainwashed,” Western or Chinese audiences. One of the key translators of Chinese blog posts for Global Voices, John Kennedy, challenged his audience by asking whether the growing Western anger against the Chinese people was justified. Was nationalism as great an influence as claimed? Was self-determination for Tibet so unacceptable in the motherland? Are Chinese netizens any more thin-skinned than Westerners when attacked online for their opinions?

Despite these valid questions, one of China’s leading dissidents, Isaac Mao, wished that the Chinese mob mentality online on issues of national importance wasn’t so strong. He stressed that although the concept of freedom of speech is paramount in the West, many other societies place greater emphasis on the rule of law and fighting corruption.

Mao, who launched Digital Nomads to host hundreds of independent blogs away from prying authoritarian rule, feared citizens in prosperous, Western citizens rarely understood the “crimes of omission” in their own societies. “They don’t get why the non-Western world wants to talk about issues that the Western largely ignores,” Mao said, “such as poverty and environmental degradation.” A major theme of the event was highlighted. Too few bloggers in the West were bridging the information gap between different societies and preferred to preach rather than listen.

The role of blogs in China is more than simply reacting to perceived Western slights. Instead, many netizens may not be calling for the dissolution of the Communist Party or planning a revolution, but they’re been given far more freedoms today than five years ago. Mirroring what I found during my research in China last year, very few Chinese bloggers appear upset with the excessive filtering (though some are unaware what they’re missing out on.) This doesn’t mean, however, that the apparent blocking of parts of Facebook isn’t annoying for many users or the creeping Olympic crackdown.

It was encouraging to hear from IT insiders that many employees of companies such as Google and Yahoo feel distinctly uncomfortable with the role their companies play in a country such as China and regularly leak material about their actions anonymously and develop tools to allow an e-mail program such as Gmail to be used securely, away from the prying eyes of censorious regimes.

The Budapest conference showed yet again that the mainstream media remains woefully under-prepared and unwilling to cover vast swathes of the world. Blogging and citizen journalism therefore provides an essential alternative to the daily obsession in much of our media with re-printing government and corporate spin as news.

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