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.

Beating the western drum

My following essay appears in the Guardian today:

During the recent war between Georgia and Russia, bloggers on both sides of the conflict provided searing accounts of atrocities and manoeuvres unseen by western journalists. In a country such as Russia the space for alternative and critical views are rare. The war showed an authoritarian regime’s narrative being challenged by a handful of insiders and outsiders. The government-run media looked staid by comparison.

This was merely the latest example of bloggers beating mainstream journalists at their own game. Online media have exploded in western nations, challenging decades-old business models and forcing reporters to answer questions about their methods and sources. But in repressive states, blogs and websites have become essential sources of information on topics – from women’s issues to sexual orientation, dating rituals to human rights – routinely shunned by channels for official propaganda.

These openings for citizens in the non-western world to be heard are far more empowering than the equivalent outlets in our own societies. But how often do we hear these voices in the west?

September 11, for example, should have been the perfect opportunity for the western media to listen to the grievances of the Muslim world. Alas, with notable exceptions, indigenous voices were excluded then and still remain largely absent from the pages of the world’s leading papers. It is as if only a western journalist’s filter can validate such perspectives.

Hearing local voices

In 2007 I travelled to Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China to speak to dissidents, bloggers, writers, politicians and ordinary citizens about how the internet is changing their countries. I wanted to gauge their interests, desires, frustrations and attitudes towards each other and the west. My new book, The Blogging Revolution, is a chance for these local voices to reveal how the web has democratised their minds – although it also reflects the fact that the vast majority of global netizens prefer online dating and downloading pirated films and music to challenging political orthodoxy.

Also addressed is whether multinationals such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco have played a part in assisting net filtering and censorship in China, Cuba and the Middle East. On the eve of the Beijing Olympic Games, Naomi Klein wrote that western firms were essential in “authoritarian communism – central planning, merciless repression, constant surveillance – harnessed to advance the goals of global capitalism.”

How much do we know about Yahoo’s or Google’s willingness to modify their behaviour to please paranoid officials? I discovered that the western executives of these companies have been more than comfortable with allowing their Chinese counterparts to self-censor thousands of sensitive keywords; far more than just “democracy” and “Falun Gong”. Moreover, they are ignoring disturbing developments such as Yahoo China’s decision earlier this year to post images of wanted Tibetans on its home page after the Lhasa uprising.

Democratic force

An important question the book poses is whether the web is an automatic democratiser, as is widely assumed in western media circles. The general consensus, across the globe, was that political and military meddling by Washington and London was making the job of real democrats much more difficult.

As one blogger told me in Tehran: “Most of the people I know are in favour of reform, not revolution, because people are too tired to experience another revolution.” I found the same message echoed throughout the countries I visited: the desire to experience incremental change without foreign involvement.

Take China. It has 250 million internet users – now the largest online community in the world, far surpassing America – based in both the cities and rural areas. Politics is often the furthest thing from their minds, but connecting with friends has become an essential part of life. I met very few bloggers who wanted to discuss anything political and most expressed general satisfaction with the regime’s economic policies. No great desire for “democratisation” there.

Mica Yushu, a blogger in Shanghai, told me that most of her middle-class friends didn’t crave political change. “We use the internet mostly for entertainment, sharing information, earning money or other fun,” she said. The sight of darkened internet cafes across the country was something to behold, with thousands of users gaming, watching soft-core pornography, blogging and instant messaging.

A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that the vast majority of China’s web users expressed support for Beijing managing or controlling the internet, including the banning of “pornographic” sites. This is not to say that the Chinese desire authoritarian rule; but while they want change, curbing corruption and ensuring essential services are their top priorities, not the advances in human rights the west puts at the top of the agenda.

After the Beijing Games, Chinese bloggers fiercely debated the economic direction the country should take over the coming years. It was a far more robust debate than one would expect from coverage of China in the west, where the emphasis is always on rampant nationalism.

One anonymous blogger noted – after sarcastically praising the country’s free-market reforms as the “best system seen not just in Chinese history, but also in humankind’s” – that greater political development could only come with a “basic welfare system.” Such discussions on a massive scale were impossible in China before the internet. Equally important debates are occurring in every country I visited.

Allowing people to speak and write for themselves without a western filter is one of the triumphs of blogging. The online culture, disorganised and disjointed in its aims, is unlike that of any previous social movement. While some want the right to criticise their leaders, others simply want the ability to flirt and listen to subversive tunes. That is revolutionary for much of the world.

· Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based journalist, blogger and author of The Blogging Revolution

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