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.

Aceh: the only Jew in the village

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The small sign in my bare hotel room in Banda Aceh was clear. “It is forbidden to bring a woman/man who are not husband or wife into the hotel.” I saw similar messages in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Gaza.

I was in Aceh [Indonesia] as a guest of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and conducted a number of satellite events with the local community. My translators were primarily girls in the final year of school, their proficiency of English and popular culture an example of the inherent contradictions between Muslim devotion and youthful curiosity.

This Indonesian province takes its Islam very seriously. The provincial parliament of Aceh recently passed a criminal bylaw that supported the death penalty, stoning and flogging for homosexual acts and adultery. They are draconian moves in a devoutly religious area.

But this is largely the only side of Aceh captured by the Western press when it considers mentioning the territory at all. After the devastating 2004 tsunami that killed over 220,000 Indonesians, Aceh was the worst affected area. It was year zero. Entire families were wiped out.

Writer Azhari – whose new book of translated poetry, Nutmeg Woman, is released this month – now lives in a shared apartment, with no living relatives to speak of. “I’m alone”, he told me, chain-smoking, “but my writing sustains me.”

Azhari’s work covers the period before the 2005 peace deal between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government. The majority of Acehnese I met said they would rather independence than integration – “we are really nine separate countries with distinct ethnic groups”, an editor at the local newspaper Harian Aceh argued – but peace always came with a price. The West Papuan struggle was warmly embraced. East Timorese freedom was praised. I sometimes sensed jealously at their relatively newfound independence. Indonesian nationalism in Aceh was hard to detect.

How to remember the tsunami is a hot subject of debate and most people I saw believed that a living memorial was essential.

“The Acehnese people are still grieving”, a journalist said, when I asked about the importance of Palestine in the province. “We care deeply about our brothers and sisters in Gaza” – one young man, under 20, said he wanted to fly to fight against the Israelis during their bombardment of the Strip in December and January and his views were not unique – but Palestine is a rallying cry, almost an abstract manifestation of the perceived injustices handed out by the West.

The Middle East is a key unifier across the Muslim world.

I was the first Jew most Acehnese had ever met or engaged. Nindy Silvie, a savvy 18-year-old in her final year of school who read Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens and loved South Park, texted me a few days ago: “People here could love Jews now because of you.”

During a radio interview with a Muslim talkback show, one girl called in to ask whether the Koran was correct when it allegedly said that, “Israel and Jews are the most cruel on the planet.” For many Muslims there, Jews are little more than occupiers and brutes in Palestine. The concept of anti-Zionism never entered their thinking or media.

Aside from countless political discussions, the landscape revealed a harsh reality. A number of large ships lie marooned in the middle of neighbourhoods, having been ruthlessly plucked from the ocean and unceremoniously dumped far from shore. They have become tourist attractions and memorials – for the handful of visitors to the island, aside from aid workers and international NGOs – and climbing them offered an expansive view of Banda Aceh and its surroundings. Misty mountains framed the skyline.

Poverty is ubiquitous, the only modern buildings and infrastructure provided by foreign donors, including the mosque-like airport, and religion has long been a central facet of life. But it’s a complex relationship. Women on the streets were mostly veiled but Britney Spears appeared on the front page of the daily newspaper with an uncovered head. Alcohol is only available underground. Men and women can’t embrace in public and often sat separately at public events, voluntarily, “because they do it every day”, a young woman said.

The legacy of occupation lingers. Wounds are not healed from decades of insurrection and Indonesia, like many powerful states, seems reluctant to investigate its brutal past. The East Timorese know what this means.

one comment ↪
  • “People here could love Jews now because of you.”
    That's a nice line Ant. Congratulations on an excellent observational article and for making such a good impression.