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.

New ways to make news matter

My following article is published today by the Melbourne Age:

During the bruising Democratic Party tussle with Hillary Clinton in April, a citizen journalist recorded Obama saying that he understood why working-class voters in decrepit industrial towns were “bitter” and clung to “guns or religion”.

Despite being a paid-up Obama supporter, writer Mayhill Fowler worked for the Huffington Post’s Off The Bus program – around 1,800 unpaid researchers, interviewers and reporters follow the intricacies of the campaign and publish it online – and believed it was her duty to reveal the event.

It was a defining media moment, made even more significant because most of the mainstream press explaining Obama’s comments conveniently airbrushed Fowler’s work. A “real” journalist hadn’t recorded the comment and therefore could be ignored.

It was the kind of exclusionary attitude all-too-common in Western media offices. Editors tell themselves that only “professionals” should be allowed to contribute published or broadcast information to the daily news cycle. Thankfully, this broken narrative is disappearing before our eyes. Alternative models are appearing by necessity.

Participatory media could easily be adopted in Australia. What about leading media outlets utilising trusted and vetted citizens in marginal seats and giving them resources to write and investigate issues relevant to their communities? From corrupt councillors to government inaction, politicians will find it hard to ignore questions from voters in their own electorate.

Journalism skills are hardly rocket science and can be acquired with experience and a little training. These so-called amateurs could blog, maintain wikis, write articles and develop contacts that would exceed any professional reporter who simply can’t devote the time to one area.

Networked journalism both engages a wider slice of society and ensures that more segments of the debate, from conservative to the progressive end, won’t feel so unrepresented in the media.

The future of robust journalism is still being written but it certainly won’t emerge from ignoring the wishes of the masses. Off The Bus co-founder Jay Rosen defines citizen journalism thus: “When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.”

The current debate in the West over the dwindling resources of the mainstream media remains mired in tired paradigms. Both print and online can survive, but the relationship between the professionals and their readers has to change. Print circulation is falling across the Western world and is unlikely to shift soon. Journalists have never been so mistrusted. Media owners, with notable exceptions, are not investing in investigative work.

The only answer is to connect interested parties from a diverse cross-selection and allow them access to the tools of the media elite. I agree with American media commentator Jeff Jarvis who tells newspapers: “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.” In other words, know your strengths and don’t waste valuable resources sending journalists on stories that can be adequately covered by a few reporters. Readers will always be instinctively drawn to the best coverage (not sloppily re-written wire copy.)

Of course, these discussions are largely irrelevant in the non-Western world, the vast majority of the planet. Newspapers and television stations in authoritarian regimes are usually little more than propaganda-producing outlets (though interestingly in many of these states circulation figures are rising.) The internet is often the only source of alternative and reliable information.

During the research for my new book, I spent time in Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China to discuss with writers, dissidents, online gurus, citizens, bloggers and politicians the ways in which the net is challenging repressive regimes and forcing uncomfortable issues into public consciousness.

Torture, multi-party elections, an unfiltered internet, gender relations and female circumcision are just a small taste of what courageous bloggers and activists are discussing online. Even with the censorship of many websites, through the assistance of Western multinationals such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, dissent is growing in many of these nations. But are we listening to their voices?

We are only given a tiny glimpse of these worlds in the West. I remember speaking to many middle-class Chinese twenty-somethings who resented the ways in which Western journalists stereotyped their nationalism as dangerous and foreign. As many angry bloggers told me, is it really any different to Americans celebrating and defending their government in times of crisis?

The Beijing Games proved that an anti-China narrative was alive and well in the foreign pages of our media. If reporters thought of reading Chinese bloggers writing during the event, they would have found a multitude of opinions about human rights, Tibet, the Dalai Lama and Taiwan. I waited optimistically for the publishing of these blogger’s perspectives, but it seemed that only a Western journalist’s filter was allowed to judge proceedings.

The West and the rest may seem eons apart in terms of interests and desires, but everybody craves trustworthy news and views. It’s time to engage communities to find ways in which they can contribute making sense of a rapidly shrinking globe.

Antony Loewenstein is the author of The Blogging Revolution, published by Melbourne University Press.

  • michael

    "it seemed that only a Western journalist’s filter was allowed to judge proceedings"

    Spot on.

    I was struck with how outraged western journos were at the blocking of the BBC website.

    Wish they'd shown a similar level of passion at the blowing of an Al-Jazeera reporter from a Baghdad rooftop or plans to bomb their corporate HQ in an allied city.

    Now *that's* censorship.

  • Hi Antony,

    I wonder if you received my previous comment or not. If not, I just wanted to thank you for the book launch which I loved and tell you that I wrote a post about it and received many emails from guys in Iran who asked me to translate this book in Persian… I love to do that sometime soon. Well, about this post I can say that media doesn't seem trustworthy in most of the world. When I was living in Iran I used to think that it's only countries under totalitairians who suffer from such distortions and censors but when I came here I realised it's something inevitable and sounds like uncurable . So, maybe that's why blogging and online citizenship is soaring day by day.

    Good Job