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.

Let the patriot games begin

My following article appears in today’s ABC Unleashed:

Before the Beijing Games launched spectacularly last weekend, the vast bulk of Australian media expressed general disdain for China, finding little positive to report. It was just the kind of coverage that played directly into the Communist regime’s hands; such is the widespread belief there that the Western media is unashamedly biased against the rising super-power.

Canadian writer Naomi Klein was thoughtful in explaining the Olympics should be seen for what they are; the celebration of a dictatorship:

“It is a potent hybrid of the most powerful political tools of authoritarianism communism – central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance – harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.”

While many Western human rights activists are shouting about China’s atrocious abuses the voice of the Chinese themselves is virtually hidden.

After the opening ceremony, some Chinese bloggers questioned whether Mao should have been more central to the event while a Canadian/Chinese fencer was praised in the local media after she displayed a ‘patriotic’ banner. It was also announced this week that every Chinese gold winner would be awarded with a new stamp.

Conveniently forgotten in the rush to celebrate Australian medal-winners are the other voices in the global media mix (such as this fascinating article by the Chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, worried that Beijing may be mimicking the 1936 Nazi Games.) We ignore non-Caucasian perspectives at our peril.

It should never be forgotten that many studies find Chinese people overwhelmingly satisfied with their lives, though the rise of the internet and satellite television has certainly increased the knowledge of social rights. McCommunism, as Noami Klein calls it, appears to be a popular ideology.

As I discuss in my forthcoming book, The Blogging Revolution, one of the key complaints of Chinese citizens, especially after this year’s torch relay debacle and pro-Tibetan protests, is the Western media’s insistence on trivialising Chinese nationalism. This recent essay, about China’s ‘neo-con nationalists’ in the New Yorker, was a notable exception. It is surely not too much to ask Western journalists, living and working in China, to try and understand the local people, rather than lecturing them on how their society should be ordered.

During my visit to China in 2007 there was an unmistakable pride in the upcoming Olympics. Writing in The Guardian this week, Muhammad Cohen explained why the Chinese overwhelming love the Games in their country:

“’I (heart) China’ serves as the Beijing regime’s succinct public response to foreign criticism of China’s human rights record: If our people love our country, then you meddlers from outside ought to just shut up.

“In China’s Olympic moment, foreign critics are focusing on all the country has failed to achieve, from its abundant air pollution to scant human rights. China’s citizens, on the other hand, see all that the country has accomplished after emerging from foreign domination and internal turmoil. They are proud of those achievements and resentful of foreigners pointing out China’s shortcomings, especially when those failings don’t bother the alleged victims.”

Like past Olympics, the Chinese media is projecting an image of uncritical adulation of its achievements, but this is little different to Sydney in 2000. Propaganda isn’t only created in authoritarian states.

Long after the Olympic spirit has left Beijing, the internet will be a central factor in continuing to shape China. Western engagement with these voices is essential if we want to avoid another Cold War. Leading blogger Isaac Mao recently revealed why the art of blogging is gradually prying open the dragon’s tight grip:

“China has a long tradition of people trying to fit into the group, moderating their behaviour to avoid standing out conspicuously – a culture reinforced by the man-made collectivism of the past half-century.

“Blogs have leapfrogged this tradition, acting as a catalyst to encourage young people to become more individual. So this and other grassroots media are now emerging strongly to challenge China’s social legacy.”

Endless foreign criticism of China will achieve little. Some Western humility during the Games would be advisable, along with legitimate calls for the state to respect human rights.

Bloggers I met in China last year almost universally told me that internet censorship didn’t bother them (a fact borne out by a recent study). They were far too busy thinking about downloading pirated movies, buying properties and meeting boys and girls.

Perhaps an appreciation of authoritarianism is an acquired taste.

one comment ↪
  • .
    Great piece, thinking about China being given the Olympics really is maddening. At least more people will be talking sooner rather than later about how there are really two very different Chinas in one.
    Maybe in the future it will be in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.
    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    just host sporting events

    communists must always seek
    planetary approval

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe loves
    corrupt governments

    denying outside help
    with tragic avalanche

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe loves
    capitalism's faults

    but prefers communism
    with its many miseries

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    never admit mistakes

    cling to false ideologies
    brainwash your countrymen

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    cause food shortages

    implement price controls
    destroy all family farms

    All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there can be no real freedom.
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