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.

The web won’t set us free

My following article was published by the Washington Post online on September 26:

During China’s milk powder crisis, with tens of thousands of babies affected by the contaminated goods, the country’s blogosphere railed against corrupt officials.

One outraged blogger wrote: “What are the people in the Government doing? They just want mistresses, they want cash, but out here we’re dying!”

Another said: “When they tell us some official is sacked, they are just giving us part of the story. The rest isn’t reported. They just move on to other jobs.”

It was the kind of brutal honesty that the internet has brought to the world’s largest online market. Millions of angry netizens were openly questioning the regime’s ability and willingness to manage the crisis. As it did after May’s Sichuan earthquake, when thousands of citizens used the web to organize protests against shoddy builders, the web is slowly democratizing information flow in the Communist State.

It has become almost accepted wisdom that the web is an automatic democratizer, but I never accepted this doctrine.

That freer flow of information is one of the main reasons the country has implemented The Golden Shield over the last years, the most effective web-filtering program in the world, ably assisted by Western multinationals such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Despite the explosion of views on topics as diverse as sex and economic development, the system allows the regime to eavesdrop in ways that were simply impossible before the net’s development.

It is, as Canadian writer Naomi Klein explains, “McCommunism“, 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.”

It’s not just China. My on-the-ground investigation of the blogging revolution and its influence on the relationship between the West and the rest took me in 2007 to Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China. In these countries I met writers, bloggers, dissidents, politicians, journalists and average citizens. I wanted to gauge how the web was changing lives and how little we understood about their worlds.

Blogs offered a window into mainly middle-class segments of societies rarely examined in the West. What does a Saudi Arabian woman think about her country’s adherence to Wahhabism? How does the average Egyptian web user cope with the ever-increasing number of arrested online activists? What is Cuba’s likely future under Raul Castro?

In China, where the vast majority of web users are far more interested in entertainment than politics, blogger Mica Yushu told me in Shanghai that most of her financially comfortable friends didn’t crave political change. “We use the internet mostly for entertainment, sharing information, earning money or other fun,” she said. It was a similar message in many states deemed “enemies” or “allies” of the West.

Take Iran. The Islamic Republic, routinely demonized in the Western press as the center of world terrorism, has arguably the healthiest blogging scene in the Middle East. As one blogger explained to me in Tehran: “Most of the people (I know are) in favor 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.

The presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has undoubtedly tightened the screws on political dissent, but despite onerous, Western-assisted web filtering, robust online debate continues. An editor of a leading youth magazine told me that he was constantly amazed that his Iranian friends were blogging about their exploits with sex and drugs. Life goes on in even the most challenging societies.

One point that resonated with virtually every person I met was how it was impossible to generalize about the web’s influence. In Egypt, the U.S.-backed dictatorship is struggling to manage a well-organized insurgency from web-organized activists and Muslim Brotherhood members. Syria increasingly blocks opposition websites, despite the fact that the groups themselves enjoy minimal support in the country itself.

U.S. writer Clay Shirky explains in his book “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organising Without Organisations” that “communications tools (such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blogging) don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring”. In other words, it’s only now becoming possible to find online the words of indigenous communities in Paraguay, dispossessed voters in Fiji or imprisoned bloggers in Morocco.

Ultimately, it is the Western media’s responsibility to engage new voices that are not simply “official” sources. The internet can never on its own bring freedom or Western-style democracy – nor should it. It is the job of reporters to listen to and appreciate the perspectives of individuals with messages that may be unappealing to our ears. The online world is just one way to enter this universe.

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, blogger and author of The Blogging Revolution (2008) and My Israel Question (2006).

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