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 truth of the matter in journalism

The following interview is published this week in the literary journal, Quill:

SYDNEY-BASED ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN is the author of the best-selling book, My Israel Question, a controversial discussion of one of the most important issues of our time, as well as The Blogging Revolution, a searching examination of the ways the internet is threatening the rule of some of the planet’s most repressive governments. He actively seeks news on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, two countries everyone knows about but seldom chooses to engage.

Loewenstein’s interest in writing goes back a long time, including being an editor of his university newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, in 1997. He says, “I often liked the idea of provoking and challenging readers, especially about supposedly accepted ‘truths.’ For me, journalism should always be about shining light in the darkness and challenging the establishment, no matter who runs the joint.” This led him to becoming a journalist in 2003 and he has used various media, including the revolutionary transparent media of blogging, to get his reports out there.

“When I first started my blog in 2005,” he recalls, “it was primarily a space to discuss issues related to Israel and Palestine that wasn’t getting adequate mainstream media coverage, namely Israeli aggression in the Palestinian territories and the gradual shifts in Jewish opinion around the world. These days, my site has become an important space to air views and news that should receive far more traction.” His blog has become so popular that he has lost count of the number of emails he has received. He takes his blogging very seriously, making sure his reports are credible. As in journalism, his idea of a reliable blogger is one who has “reliable sources, transparency in their methods” and is “not being a propagandist for one side or the other.”

With an endless archive of information, the World Wide Web is chaotic and unpredictable, but Loewenstein celebrates this. “Information overload happens to me all the time but it’s a generally pleasurable experience. The best journalists and writers are always the ones with the most facts and figures at their fingertips,” he states, and believes that readers can learn how to discern reliable and nonsensical web resources. “This is something that one learns over time, though this is no different to trusting certain newspapers and not others.” If in doubt, The Blogging Revolution makes a good reference.

Loewenstein thinks that the biggest misconception about the type of journalism he does is objectivity. He says, “Truth matters. When writing about Israel or Palestine, for example, the reality hits you in the face and you have to report it. Israel is an apartheid state that must be condemned (like any other country that oppresses people). This is not just my view, but the position of virtually every human rights group in the world, the United Nations, leading activists and citizens.”

Aside from backing Israel, Loewenstein feels the West has also fallen short in being a reliable source of news. “One of the great myths of the Western world, of course, is that our media is free and people can and do write whatever they want,” he says, before referring to Noam Chomsky who once stated “the media serve the interests of state and corporate power, which are closely interlinked, framing their reporting and analysis in a manner supportive of established privilege and limiting debate and discussion accordingly.”

However, the West also has its advantages. Although outspoken journalists aren’t always popular, they can escape repressive regimes found in persecuting nations. “Find Western allies to cause a noise if you are arrested or intimidated. Remember that your readers value transparency and honesty,” Loewenstein advices.

Constantly fighting against mainstream media has its setbacks and this is all familiar to Loewenstein. “Anybody who dares challenge Israeli policies should expect a barrage of abuse from the usual suspects but the internet has provided an essential portal for more global citizens to witness the reality of brutal Israeli policies against the Palestinians.” He calls himself “an atheist Jew.” He doesn’t practise Judaism, but culturally he is Jewish. As the Israel-Palestinian war has often been viewed as a Jewish-Muslim struggle, Loewenstein receives hate-mail and the occasional death threats. This fuels him though, so much so that even editors fail in censoring his work. And to him, terrorism is any violence against civilians; the only acceptable violence is “resistance to occupation is both legitimate and necessary, from Palestine to Sri Lanka.”

For his research, Loewenstein travels regularly overseas because “far too many journalists and bloggers pontificate from their offices, not realising that often they’re only having their prejudices confirmed, not challenged. Being on the ground is essential to understanding different cultures.” For My Israel Question, he spent two months in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine for research; and for The Blogging Revolution, his research on the web in repressive regimes took him to Cuba, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China.

Being a worldly journalist has certainly taught Loewenstein how to assess the state of affairs in a country. He can guess the motives of media coverage or silence. “I am opposed to media censorship. One can tell a great deal about a country from the ways in which its government treats the media. Censoring information shows a profound contempt for the general public. The internet is one way of challenging this, by publishing blogs, despite the often deep risks in doing so.”

With a multicultural background and being well aware of issues going on in other nations, what ishis ideal nation? “No country is perfect, but I think, with all its faults, of which there are many—not least an underlying distaste of complexity, atrocious treatment of the indigenous peoples and occasional bursts of racist fervour—Australia’s lifestyle is pretty decent.”

TAN MAY LEE graduated from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, where she was awarded the Bonamy Dobree Scholarship for International Students to do her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Language. She also trained as a Master Practitioner in Neuro-Semantics Neuro-Linguistic Programming. She is the editor of Quillmagazine. Her story, “From the Roof,” was recently anthologised inUrban Odysseys: KL Stories (MPH Group Publishing, February 2009).

Reproduced from the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2009 issue of Quill magazine

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