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.

Right’s new radicals

My following book review appears today in Sydney’s Sun Herald newspaper:

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party
Max Blumenthal
(Nation Books, $49.95)
Reviewed by Antony Loewenstein

Christian fundamentalists have taken over the Republican Party. “It’s become the party of birthers, deathers and Civil War re-enacters,” Max Blumenthal told the Los Angeles Times last month. Last year’s vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin – anti-abortion, pro-war, pro-torture, anti-Islam and evangelical – epitomised the new, radical America: parochial, intolerant yet homely. “She’s bright and a blank page,” said a former White House official working at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute. The world is aching to be ruled by Washington or at least controlled by it. This book explains the fears and power inherent in this ideology.

Blumenthal is known for making short films documenting the Christian Right and publishes regularly in The Huffington Post, The Nation and The Daily Beast. He’s an unconventional figure, largely allowing his subjects – gun nuts, anti-Semites and Barack Obama haters – to speak in their own words. George W. Bush and Karl Rove were just two of the most recent individuals to push this agenda on a national stage and gained considerable political power in the process. Fear is a rallying tool.

During last year’s Republican National Convention, the writer observes a hard truth about the party that nominated John McCain but almost forced him to select Palin to appease the radical base of the party: “Almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly evangelical, fixated on abortion, homosexuality and abstinence education; resentful and angry and unable to discuss how and why it has become this way.”

Fox News’s Glenn Beck today speaks for some of these people (despite his occasional criticism of the Republicans.) In mid-October, he again called for a return to a “simpler time” in America, a past that never existed except in the minds of those who conveniently ignore the fact that America was a society based on racial apartheid less than 50 years ago.

Blumenthal gives a potted history of the key cultural figures in the Christian Right – James Dobson founded Focus on the Family in the 1970s and shot to fame with a best-selling book that encouraged beating children into submission to restore respect for God – and explains how a “culture of personal crisis” thrives in its bowels. “This culture is the mortar that bonds leaders and followers together,” Blumenthal writes. A politician beat his wife, cheated on her or picked up a gigolo in a male toilet? Christian-oriented solutions can soothe the aches and pains of Middle America (and resurrect flailing careers).

Witness possible future Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich, who after failed marriages prostrated himself before Dobson in 2007 almost to ask for forgiveness and now enjoys considerable backing from the radical fringe. His conversion to Catholicism was a shameless attempt to use his own personal crisis to generate sympathy and power. Blumenthal’s book is littered with similar examples.

Perhaps the most striking element of this work is how prescient it has become (the book entered The New York Times bestseller list within weeks of its release). The bitter, sometimes racist campaign against Obama is symptomatic of the rot (though there are many reasons why one would oppose the Democratic Party, from the war in Afghanistan to its policy on the occupation of Palestine).

But appropriation of the most extreme segments of political thought now defines the Republicans. Take its moves last month to investigate America’s leading Muslim advocacy group for wanting to place Muslim interns as aides in congressional offices. Or a leader of the so-called Tea Party movement opposing Obama’s healthcare plan accusing the President of being an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief”.

The point isn’t that these views exist and always will; it’s that they are being amplified and supported by leading figures in America’s alternative ruling class. Blumenthal questions the moral code of a party that supports water-boarding but doesn’t tolerate a woman’s right to choose.

Republican Gomorrah is both new and old history, the trajectory of a vocal minority of Americans who both fear the world and want to control it.

It’s a sober warning that as most of the Western world moves towards a more tolerant, secular future, the United States may embrace a doctrine of radical exclusion.

3 comments ↪
  • Thanks for the review Ant, sounds a very interesting book.
    One wonders which way the Republicans are headed; whether they try to take back the "middle ground" voters or appeal to a radical rump as described in Blumenthal's book.

  • George

    Before I read this book the thought of tracing the beginnings of the radical right in America dawned on me and just as quickly evaporated.  I am ever thankful to Mr. Blumenthal for giving me a wonderful history of this movement.  It is unbelievable that the party which had all the chips just a short time ago now seems on the verge of self-destruction.  I can only hope.

  • It's easy to paint Obama as a kind of Trojan horse,  a man who says one thing and means another, according to Robert Fisk (qv). To paraphrase Fisk: "At least you knew where George Bush was coming from." But the fact that Obama is so bitterly opposed by the "Christian" Right must mean something. To me, this says that to the fundamentalist loons, he represents a genuine ideological threat. They are not worried for nothing.