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 Blogging Revolution and voices of crisis

Juan Cole runs one of the finest and most popular US-based Middle East related blogs. It’s been a beacon of rationality during the Bush years.

My following piece appears on his site today:

During last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai, new technology reacted to the news faster than traditional media services. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs featured (not always accurate) information from the ground and revealed the inadequacies of relying on “official” sources.

For example, as soon as it became clear that the head of the antiterrorist squad in Mumbai, Hemant Karkare, had been killed, Flickr instantly contained a portfolio of images of the official.

The ability to increasingly rely on eyewitness accounts leaves the professional journalist in a bind. For too many years Western news editors only deemed legitimate perspectives that were viewed and heard by fellow Western journalists. It was subconscious racism, protecting their own turf and deliberately ignoring points of view that challenged Washington and London’s foreign policy priorities.

After September 11, 2001, I was constantly frustrated with the lack of indigenous voices in the mainstream media (although I was living in Australia at the time, the situation was little different to the US). Why weren’t we constantly hearing from bloggers in Iraq about the impending war? What about civilians under American bombs in Kabul? Or Pakistanis in Lahore, Quetta or Karachi who resented former President General Pervez Musharraf’s Faustian deal with the Bush administration? Online media presented a unique opportunity to hear alternative voices on matters of of global significance. With notable exceptions, these people remain unheard.

In 2007 I travelled to Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China to speak to dissidents, bloggers, writers, politicians, men, women, conservatives, liberals 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.

Furthermore, I wanted to challenge the thesis that the introduction of the web automatically brings Western-style democracy to a society. This is, of course, the kind of thesis that neo-conservative think-tanks publish on a regular basis. Perhaps, instead, individuals in authoritarian societies actually want freedom from us.

Take Saudi Arabia. One of the most fundamentalist nations on earth, fully backed by the West for its abundant oil reserves, the blogging community is small but thriving. The country’s most famous blogger, Fouad Farhan – imprisoned in December 2007 and released without charge in April this year – was a compelling host. He talked passionately about using the web to convince his people that a moderate Islam was the only alternative to the current nepotistic system and al-Qaeda-type extremism.

It was an uphill battle – not least because free media and elections were impossible – but Farhan convinced me that it was a worthwhile struggle. The web was his only way of disseminating information.

Across the Middle East regimes implement various modes of censorship. Iran has the most sophisticated process – ably assisted by Western multinationals – and blocks thousands of websites related to gender, politics, sex, health and popular culture. The Islamic Republic is undoubtedly fearful of modernity and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has increased oppression against women, journalists, unionists, homosexuals and human right activists. Not surprisingly, the mullahs have realised the power of the web to spread the message of Shia Islam and now utilise many bloggers of their own to counter the perceived liberal leanings of reformists.

China, the world’s biggest internet community – with over 250 million users and growing at six million per month – has developed into a heavily filtered but exciting space (though online bullying has now reached epidemic proportions). Despite the vast restrictions, robust discussion about corruption and health issues are everywhere and challenges the Western perception of a largely cowered society.

Blogs can, and should, allow better opportunities for different cultures to interact, debate and disagree online. Sadly, the language barrier is hindering these developments and must be improved before there is any credible talk of a truly global internet.

The online culture, chaotic and disjointed in its aims, is unlike that of any previous social movement. Allowing people to write and speak for themselves without a western filter is one of the triumphs of blogging, though many western journalists feel threatened by its potential. While some want the right to criticise their leaders, others simply want to flirt and listen to hip-hop. That is revolutionary for much of the world.

one comment ↪
  • Bill Chapman

    You're right that "Blogs can, and should, allow better opportunities for different cultures to interact, debate and disagree online. Sadly, the language barrier is hindering these developments and must be improved before there is any credible talk of a truly global internet."

    I think you're arguing the case for wider use of Esperanto. This language has some remarkable practical benefits. Personally, I’ve made friends around the world through Esperanto that I would never have been able to communicate with otherwise. And then there’s the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries.