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.

Power of the people

Dawn is Pakistan’s leading English language paper. Today it publishes a review by Mustafa Qadri of my book, The Blogging Revolution:

Hot on the heels of his last book, My Israel Question (a history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine from the perspective of an anti-Zionist Jewish Australian), freelance journalist Antony Loewenstein delves into the ‘Blogging Revolution’ with a book of the same title.

The greatest virtue of this book is that it is written not from the distant comforts of the West but on the ground in six fascinating and misunderstood countries. In Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China, the reader is taken on a journey through the lives of a variety of people, including but not limited to activists, seeking to engage their society in a social debate on a range of topics from sex to religion and popular culture.

It is a pioneering work on a topic that is rarely discussed by the mainstream media despite the now ubiquitous presence of every major news source on the World Wide Web. The Blogging Revolution should resonate well with us in Pakistan given our own experience with internet censorship. It was only a few years ago that former president Musharraf banned the popular and blogger websites in an attempt to crack down on political dissent. One wonders how an independent observer like Loewenstein would view the state of our media.

Loewenstein catalogues the liberating features of the internet, such as the free access of information and perspectives not available from traditional media or the government. But he cautions against any easy conclusions that the web automatically creates a freer society.

He notes, for example, the astounding statistic from the Committee to Protect Journalists that 40 per cent of journalists jailed around the world are web-based reporters. And in China internet technology has been used to crack down on descent, often with the collusion of western multinationals like Google and Yahoo!. In the case of Yahoo! it included colluding with Chinese authorities in the arrest of a number of journalists critical of the government.

China has cracked down on internet dissent more systematically than any other country. Every new internet user has to register with the police within a month of opening an account while 40,000 bureaucrats monitor internet usage daily.

However the country’s response to the internet boom, and the free flow of information and opinions it promises, is far from monolithic. One out of every 30 Chinese is a blogger — internet-speak for one who keeps an online diary — and with close to 230 million internet users, many foreign news websites are available.

Often censorship is a process of negotiation, as is the case for Todou, China’s largest online video site. Authorities contact the company at least once a week to complain about content, but sometimes Todou manages to negotiate partial censorship. Even so, economic freedom has progressed inordinately faster than social ones. ‘Money is the new God,’ an advertising executive in Shanghai explains, ‘as long as political content was generally avoided.’

As one author tells him in Shanghai, for most Chinese internet censorship is not the most pressing concern. The internet, Loewenstein nevertheless concludes, has enabled an unprecedented level of democratisation in China.

There are a few surprises in the book. Contrary to what many may have guessed, Iran’s online communities are the most robust in the Middle East, even if restrictions on freedom of speech there also remain robust. But perhaps we ought not to be surprised. Literacy in Iran is 90 per cent and more than half of university graduates are women.

There are one million bloggers in Iran and Technorati, a popular search engine, lists Farsi as one of the top five languages on the internet. He meets bloggers and newspaper editors both secular and religious.

Even religious hardliners have created blogs. So too has former Iranian vice-president under Mohammad Khatamei, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a noted reformist. He reminds the author, and the reader, that Iranians do not want ‘western-style’ reforms but change on their own terms even if leaves room for much inconsistency on social reforms, particularly with respect to the role of women in public life.

The recent conviction of an Iranian-American journalist for spying is a reminder of the existing risks to journalists in the country. The editor of the student magazine Chelcheragh, for example, explains that they receive a weekly fax from the ministry of culture noting what cannot be discussed — things like protests by teachers or women, or police brutality. Internet service providers also self-censor by filtering many words deemed subversive or pornographic.

Even so, Iranians continue to debate some of the more controversial and hence relevant topics in ‘code’. Revealingly, not one of the Iranians mentioned speak lovingly of the regime created following the 1979 revolution.

Political discourse in Syria is not as robust as in neighbouring Iran. Nor is the internet infrastructure, or filtering for that matter, although censorship and other government restrictions on criticism of the regime remain strong. That may have more to do with the government’s relative ignorance of the new technology — as evidenced by the story of a Syrian minister who asked if he needed to drive his car to a new government website.

There is an incredible lack of internet facility in Cuba. In no other country visited is internet usage and infrastructure as poor as it is here.

Bloggers, though few in number, give voice to a populace frustrated by a regime’s failure to address crippling poverty and unemployment.

The internet is one of the few outlets for Saudis to freely engage with one another and the opposite sex, the outside world, and politics. Twenty per cent of them are online. But social and political expression on the internet isn’t without its risks — Fould Al Farhan, for instance, whom Loewenstein meets in Jeddah, was jailed for five months for allegedly campaigning for the release of activists.

In Egypt, we learn that the Muslim Brotherhood has become a measure of the level and nature of discontent — contrary to what most western commentary asserts, political Islam in this country is a bulwark of the pro-democracy movement.

Ironically the repressive Mubarak regime, which routinely imprisons bloggers, journalists, and political activists, may well create the conditions for its violent overthrow by more radical religious activists.

Yet there are more progressive voices too, and their equally violent crackdown by the government belies the moderate tag given to the country.

There are several messages in this book. One of is that blogs and other independent sources of information and opinion on the internet cannot replace the mainstream media with their resources and global reach.

But, collectively, they can give unparalleled access to our increasingly globalised world. With virtual unanimity, the people featured in the book express the view that greater rule of law and freedom will come to their country in spite of the West rather than because of it.

Through the journeys described in the book one is left with a quiet sense of hope — that despite the barriers between peoples, aspirations remain largely the same everywhere. ‘Technology,’ the author concludes, ‘never brings true reform, only people ever do.’

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