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.

Blogging their way to freedom

My latest column for New Matilda is about the ways in which the web can challenge dictatorships around the globe and the complicity of Western firms in assisting repression:

With the Beijing Olympics now a distant memory — and commentators wondering whether the event will herald greater openness in the Communist nation — local internet users are already reporting increased online censorship. As lawyer and legal blogger Liu Xiaoyuan recounted last week:

“Yesterday, I was interviewed by some foreign media; they wanted me to talk about issues of press freedom and freedom of speech during the Olympics. During the Olympics, authorities stopped blocking foreign media websites, and we were free to browse them, this is definitely a big step forward. But, controls on internet speech are tighter than they were before, and many things cannot be talked about; even posts like this one will be deleted. What I didn’t expect is that now that the Olympics are over, internet speech still hasn’t [been] let go.”

There has also been extensive online chatter about China’s medal haul in Beijing and the inevitable comparison with the US, including a pithy challenge to America’s obesity culture. Despite China now having the world’s largest online community — 250 million and growing at around six million new users per month — the Communist Party has started to recognise the potential health dangers of new technology (and not just the increased weight of users): late last week a leading Chinese legislator announced that about four million Chinese youngsters were addicted to the internet, attracted by “unhealthy” online games.

Meanwhile, the recent war between Georgia and Russia — in many ways a proxy battle between the Russia and the West — proved the effectiveness of bloggers in deconstructing the realities behind the headlines. Russian bloggers regularly use LiveJournal, a social networking blogging tool, and during the conflict we were treated to a relatively unfiltered perspective, radically different to the pro-Kremlin line in the Russian state media.

All sides issued exaggerated propaganda, but some Russians, despite the vast majority of the country supporting President Dimitri Medvedev’s offensive, were more considered. Journalist Michael Idov wrote, “Russia is a society of conspiracy theorists. In fact, the notion that politics is mere theatre and policy is determined via backroom collusion is so central to the Russian worldview that ‘theorist’ is perhaps too weak a word. Russia is a society of conspiracy axiomists.” Georgian bloggers were desperate to be heard, too.

In Turkey, over 450 websites recently joined in solidarity to protest the state’s increasing censorship of mainstream sites, such as YouTube (again available after being temporarily banned for allegedly insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the modern Turkish state).

A public prosecution’s office in Egypt announced in late August () that a blogger held in Cairo’s Tora prison for a month should be released immediately. Police accused the blogger, 21-year-old mass communications student Mohamed Refaat Bayyoumy, of being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and charged him with possession of literature promoting the organisation. In a separate case, a blogger imprisoned for four years for allegedly insulting the prophet Mohammed and President Hosni Mubarak is facing increased harassment.

There is no co-ordinated worldwide campaign against web filtering and oppression but bloggers and activists in various countries are starting to realise the power of organising locally and globally.

The proliferation of blogs giving air to indigenous voices in countries deemed “enemies” or “allies” is a challenge to the Western-centric media attitudes we are familiar with. As I argue in my new book, it is essential to hear alternative voices from a place such as Iran, where the latest reports suggest that a US military strike is imminent. During my visit to Iran last year, there was constant fear of an aggressive move by Washington or Israel.

What most dissidents, bloggers and journalists couldn’t understand — and these were people who mostly opposed the regime — was how the political planners expected a bombing run to lessen the control of the state. If anything, it would only increase it. And as I argued on the Lowy Institute blog last week, the current Western posturing is actually more about protecting the Jewish state’s supremacy than worrying about Iran’s supposed nuclear capabilities.

While the challenges new media presents for old media may be a key issue in the Western media context, in the vast majority of other countries, the presence of a technology which can express ideas usually kept between friends and family is an inherently liberating force. Ultimately, in much of the non-Western world, the blogosphere is the only source of reliable information, as state run media is guaranteed to be shameless propaganda.

In surveying the activities of bloggers and online activists, however, it’s essential to note the largely silent influence of Western multinationals. The role of companies such as Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Adidas, Coke and McDonald’s, among many others, has been to complicity assist some of the worst authoritarian regimes on the planet, such as China’s. Internet firms, many of whom we rely on every day for our information needs, are actively involved in the restriction of freedom for others in non-democratic nations.

Days before the start of the Beijing Olympics, Canadian writer Naomi Klein argued that “Police State 2.0” was being born:

“The games have been billed as China’s ‘coming out party’ to the world. They are far more significant than that. These Olympics are the coming out party for a disturbingly efficient way of organising society, one that China has perfected over the past three decades, and is finally ready to show off. 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. Some call it ‘authoritarian capitalism’, others ‘market Stalinism’ — personally I prefer ‘McCommunism’.”

It isn’t hard to imagine a dystopian future in which the skills learned by Western firms in a place like China may be transported back to our own societies, or simply used in other countries desperate to control the online flow of information.

no comments – be the first ↪