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.

Vibewire on The Blogging Revolution

Vibewire is one of Australia’s finest online youth portals (I used to write a regular column for them years ago.)

I was recently interviewed by one of their writers, Jacqui Dent, about my book, The Blogging Revolution:

Blogging is being used increasingly to speak out against oppression in authoritarian regimes and speak up amidst mainstream media bias in the west. But are we listening? JACQUI DENT talks with author Antony Loewenstein to find out.

“I’m not saying Kevin Rudd should have a blog [but] why doesn’t he? Why doesn’t he want to engage with people? I understand that he’s a busy guy…”

It sounds like he’s having a joke but writer, blogger and journalist Antony Loewenstein is not being completely facetious. We’re chatting about his latest book The Blogging Revolution and the question that has prompted this statement is about his interview with Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the former vice-president of Iran. Just one of dozens of politicians, bloggers and journalists Loewenstein met whilst researching his book, what’s interesting about Abtahi is that he maintained a blog throughout his term and still has one today.

Unlike most of the bloggers Loewenstein met, Abtahi wrote from a position of power yet his motives matched those of many dissidents. He wrote out of frustration with the mainstream media. It’s a frustration Loewenstein shares, citing the events of 9/11 and the Iraq war as the wake-up call that for him flagged astonishing media bias in much of the west. Five years and over one million Iraqi casualties after the war in Iraq, the media still refuses to offer Iraqi voices. “Western journalists go to Iraq and they interview Iraqis: one or two lines, that’s it.”

“It’s clearly a belief that unless we report it and see it and explain it in our own words [you haven’t got legitimacy],” says Loewenstein. “If you go to much of the non-western world it’s that kind of bias…that pisses people off.”

Yet with the advent of the internet and blogging, for the first time those people are being given a way to speak up. We all remember the story of Salam Pax, the Baghdad blogger who emerged during the Iraq war. “He showed up most of the western media because he had far more access and information and insight because he was Iraqi.” Blogging offers a chance for those who were previously unheard to bypass the mainstream media and offer their own perspective on events in their own countries and overseas, and increasingly we are hearing through the web the voices of those living under authoritarian regimes. And some of it is having an effect.

Loewenstein gives the example of a disturbing tendency for torture activists in Egypt to be arrested and raped by police officers. The horrendous acts were routinely filmed by the police and then distributed in order to frighten and intimidate other activists. In the past couple of years bloggers and dissidents have been able to disseminate the videos on YouTube and elsewhere, ultimately causing the jailing of two guilty police officers. However, Loewenstein is careful not to overestimate the effects of this new medium. “I’m not saying police torture has stopped,” he says. But the story is a good example of, “a relatively small online community… put[tting] on the agenda an issue that was only really whispered about rather than talked about.”

Yet the risks bloggers face for bringing these issues onto the public agenda in some countries can be extreme. Since 2003 sixty-four bloggers worldwide have been arrested and gaoled and many of those Loewenstein met felt they might be endangered simply by speaking to a western journalist. Such examples are not as isolated as you may think. Loewenstein mentions one situation a few years ago when an Iranian blogger was interviewed for a Foreign Correspondent documentary. The blogger “ended up being arrested after that show was aired and was gaoled,” Loewenstein says.

Dissident bloggers in countries like Iran and China also have to contend with increasing internet censorship by the government, blocking websites dealing with undesirable content and excluding certain key words from search engines like Google. Yet it’s the complacency Loewenstein discovered that seems particularly frightening. Loewenstein says most of the people he spoke to were unbothered by the censorship, or unaware of just how many sites were being blocked. Whilst in the meantime the practise of censorship is speading.

It sounds like the kind of thing that would only happen overseas but internet censorship is already being suggested both here in Australia and in other western nations. Multinational corporations such as Google and Yahoo, who collaborate with the Chinese and other authoritarian governments to enforce censorship laws already have the skills and means to import internet filtering into western countries.

“I do not see,” says Loewenstein, with feeling, “how it’s unlikely that …[censorship] could be used in western states.” The Rudd government is already talking about blocking child pornography websites and whilst Loewenstein stresses he does not support child pornography, the question must be asked: once you introduce censorship, where will it end?

“Do we get into a situation where the government says ‘we’re going to start blocking sites that support terrorism’?” The problem with this is that, as we’ve learned from cases such as that of Dr Haneef, ‘supporting terrorism’ is not such a straightforward thing to define. Loewenstein gives the example of Hamas, the elected government in Palestine: “it’s regarded as a terrorist organization by much of the western world, in my view mistakenly. So are we going to have a situation where the Australian government or the US government says ‘well, if you’re accessing the Hamas website you’re breaking the law’.”

It is in such environments that the voices of bloggers become so important. But how to go about finding these voices? Loewenstein seems slightly weary of the question. “People often ask me how do you know which blogs to look at…there’s no simple answer, over time you discover which sites you like, which sites you trust.” After some probing however, Loewenstein does recommend Global Voices Online, a website which provides commentary and translations on various political blogs of many nationalities. A full list of Loewenstein’s recommended blogs can be found at the back of his book, The Blogging Revolution.

Loewenstein also recommends alternative media sites like Crikey!, and Slate Magazine for those to wish to read what people not part of what Loewenstein refers to as the ‘old men with beards’ have to say about world events. Loewenstein now has a beard himself, he is quick to point out, but he also has good things to say about Vibewire, which the 33-year-old used to write for, so we won’t hold it against him. “I like what [Vibewire] stands for…getting people who are deemed by the mainstream media to not be interested in the world of politics…to actually engage with issues.”

Of course, it’s easy to take Loewenstein’s views on blogging as a prediction of the future of the media, yet Loewenstein does not intend for blogging to overtake mainstream journalism. “If we’re looking for good investigative journalism, the vast majority of it is still, with exceptions…being done by print media… I’m not going to sit here and say that blogging is about to replace that.” But the point is that with the advent of the web and the opportunities it brings, the media is no longer the only source of information.

It was the writer Douglas Adams who once said that the internet is like being in a room where every door is one of those science fiction devices that transports you to any place in the world. If those doors were blogs, they’d plonk you down into the living room of any man or woman on the planet with an internet connection and something to say. It’s the first time in human history that communication of this sort has been so readily available. We’ve been using it to talk, but now some of us are starting to recognise that we can also use it to listen.

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