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.

Who will fill the silences?

An interesting article today by Crikey publisher Eric Beecher on the crisis in modern journalism. It’s hard to disagree with much of this, except to wonder what kind of values we are truly missing from the mainstream media. Investigative work must be done to sustain democracy, to be sure, but how many stories were being missed in the “good old days” and can new media fill the gaps?

“Public trust” journalism is an essential element of a functioning, informed democracy. It is just as important, in its own way, as the parliament or the judiciary.

By “public trust” journalism I refer to journalism that applies scrutiny, analysis and accountability to governments, parliaments, politicians, public servants, judges, police, councils, the military, NGOs, diplomats, business and community leaders and the recipients of public funding.

This journalism includes investigative reporting, analysis and feature writing, commentary, opinions, editorials, campaigns as well as the day-to-day reporting of parliaments, councils, courts, tribunals, wars, stock exchanges and all the other tentacles of the polity, the judiciary and the democracy.

Without the existence of well-resourced “public trust” journalism — the arm of democracy that attempts to keep the other arms open, honest and accountable — it is far more likely that custodians of democracy will be dishonest, deceptive or will abuse their positions of trust.

“Public trust” journalism is very costly to produce. In a country like Australia, it requires hundreds of reporters, editors and commentators, supported by costly infrastructure, to do time-consuming, research-heavy, often painstaking work.

In Australia, historically, that work has been undertaken primarily by two groups: public broadcasters and privately-owned newspapers. To be specific, large-scale “public trust” journalism in Australia is undertaken — and funded — by the ABC, SBS and daily national and metroplitan newspapers. And to be more specific, the heavy lifting of “public trust” journalism in Australia is undertaken by five media outlets: the ABC, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Financial Review.

Through an accident of history and commerce, most of this journalism has been funded by the profits from the highly lucrative classified advertising that appeared in the same newspapers that also undertook the “public trust” journalism. And those newspapers and their owners loved it while it lasted: they got to make extortionate profits from the classified ads at the same time as they were basking in the power and glory of running “public trust” journalism.

Now, as classified advertising migrates from newspapers to the internet, that funding source is disappearing.

That means there is now a high probability that commercial funding of “public trust” journalism will be reduced to an unsatisfactory level for the health of Australian democracy. That’s because the public companies which own the newspapers that currently invest in this journalism — companies whose fiduciary obligations are to their shareholders, not to democracy — won’t continue to fund unprofitable journalism that is no longer subsidised by classified advertising. That process has already well and truly started.

This raises the obvious question: if the newspaper publishers can no longer afford to pay for it, where will the funding for “public trust” journalism come from in the future?

Some people believe a new online commercial business model for quality journalism will emerge. That is already happening on a small scale (such as at Business Spectator, Crikey, Smart Company and Eureka Report, in which I am involved), but there is no hint anywhere of an emerging commercial model for the large-scale “public trust” journalism I have described. Not a hint.

Because it is so vital to our system of democracy, I believe it is far too risky to leave the fate of “public trust” journalism in the hands of publishers who can no longer rationally support it (even if some of them heroically pretend they still can), or in the hands of a new business model that doesn’t exist.

The time has arrived, in my view, to move “public trust” journalism into the basket where it belongs. The basket where nearly all the other important components of democracy sit. The public/philantrophic basket.

No-one questions the public/philanthropic (supported by user pays) funding model for arts or culture or education, or indeed for public broadcasting. None of these crucial elements of society would exist on any scale if they had to depend entirely on a commercial mechanism.

The most important journalism to our society is now in jeopardy due to a market failure. It’s time to recognise that the accident of history that created the funding system for ‘public trust’ journalism has itself been corrected. It’s time to focus on the end rather than the means, otherwise “public trust” journalism — and the vigorous Australian democracy it supports — will wither on the vine.

2 comments ↪
  • mallee

    It is hard not to puke when reading Beecher's 'absolution' of 'public trust' journalism because he must know, as does any informed person who now relies on the interent, that 'public trust' journalism is a fraud and deceit and now does not really exist.

    Remember all the media support for wmd's and so forth, just friggin lies, all the hype about the "war on terrorism' without any consideration of historic government's 'false flag attacks' designed to lie to the public to get us to go and steal from Iraq. Tell me where all the 'public trust' journalism concentrated on the real reason for trying to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan. (oil, oil pipelones anyone?)

    Anyone seen or heard in/from the media recently, the released scientific publication by 9 scientists [4th April; See 911blogger.com] of the finding of thermitic explosive in the dust of the WTC towers on 9/11 indicating that the towers were blown up and therefore, those awaiting rescue therein were murdered by those who 'blew up' the two towers.

    Anyone seen the three part report by David Chandler on the admission by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology that the top 17 stories or so of building No 7 at the world trade centre fell at 'freefall' speed (according to gravitational laws) for over 2.25 seconds which indicates irrefutably that the building structure below the 'free falling' 17 floors must have been instantaneously and simultaneously removed. IN OTHER, WORDS BLOWN UP. [see architects and engineers for 911 truth; ae911truth.com]

    'public Trust', Indeed! Sheer BS.

  • mallee

    One thing further: I gave up my subscription to Crikey years ago after one year subscribing, (then $115.00) as I was not satisfied with their application/interpretation of 'public trust' journalism.