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.

People make revolutions

I wrote before about the dangers of over-playing the significance of the web in Iran. It’s hard not to moved, though, by this Iranian blogger:

I will take part in the rally tomorrow. It might become violent. Perhaps I may be one of the people who is meant to die. I am listening to all the beautiful songs that I’ve ever heard before…. I always wanted to thin out my eyebrows… I am looking through all my family photo albums from the start. I have to call my friends and say goodbye. I just have two bookshelves full of books to my name in this world; I have told my family who to give them to. I have two units to go before I get my degree, but the hell with that… I just wrote these scattered sentences so that the next generation knows that we weren’t irrational and emotional. So that they know we did what we could to make our lives better… but we refused to give in to oppression.

A number of leading American analysts are challenging the Twitter/Blogging Revolution thesis (including a reference to my book, The Blogging Revolution, in this Foreign Affairs blog).

One of the best writers on the subject, Ethan Zuckerman, concludes that the Western media should not be presuming the internet is causing revolution in the Islamic Republic:

– Social media is probably more important as a tool to share the protests with the rest of the world than it is as an organizing tool on the ground.
– Iranians have been accessing social networking sites and blogging platforms despite years of filtering – there’s a cadre of folks who understand how to get around these blocks and are probably teaching others.
– Because so many Iranians use social media tools – often to talk about topics other than politics – they’re a “latent community” that can come to life and have political influence when events on the ground dictate…

One of the reasons MSM outlets are so focused on social media is that they’re not able to deploy reporters to cover these protests. In some cases, the majority of reporting from the ground is coming from social media. It’s worth asking what the biases might be in amplifying those social media reports. Ahmedinejad’s supporters tend to be poorer, more rural, less educated and more likely to speak Farsi than Mousavi’s supporters – a picture of the protests via social media runs the danger of overstating Mousavi support or minimizing Ahmedinejad support.

This Christian Science Monitor piece contains a decent amount of skepticism (despite the headline).

Evgeny Morozov writes a fascinating post on Foreign Policy about the State Department’s relationship with Twitter during the supposed Green Revolution in Iran:

Let me be my usual cynical self and try to speculate on the real reasons behind the State Department’s request to Twitter to delay maintenance.

The widely-accepted narrative goes like this: the State Department officials realized the importance of Twitter to Iranian protests and at some point on Monday afternoon got in touch with Twitter’s executives and asked them to delay maintenance; the company complied and kept the Iranians, Americans, and everyone else with nothing else to do during this revolution tweeting. Bravo, American diplomats: you are all on the cutting-edge of innovation.

This unusual outreach from the State Department has now emerged as one of the arguments for why Twitter has been influential in Iran; if American diplomats think it’s important to keep Twitter alive, it must by all means be very important – even if few people can actually see or prove why.

I kid you not, what follows is a quote from a New York Times article: the delay in Twitter’s maintenance reveals “the recognition by the United States government that an Internet blogging service that did not exist four years ago has the potential to change history in an ancient Islamic country”. If only life was that simple, my dear friends at the New York Times: blogging services do not change history, not even if the State Department asks them; people do. Moreover, I am increasingly skeptical of the State Department’s own ability to change history – or at least, to change it for the better, but let’s save it for another post.

I am just trying to second guess the logic of those who have reported on the State Department’s intervention have relied upon. Was it something like “well, we don’t know anything about Twitter’s real impact, but the State Department thinks it’s influentila, and it must certainly be so then; remember, we are journalists, we don’t have to dig any deeper”.

Does anyone else find it extremely fishy? Since when the decisions by the State Department – not exactly the hotbed of new media innovation – are representative of anything?

Believe in real freedom and democracy in Iran and not spurious Western journalism with little clue about how repressive regimes truly operate.

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