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.

Underbelly of Japan

My following book review appeared in yesterday’s Sydney Sun-Herald:

Tokyo Vice: A Western Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
Jake Adelstein
(Scribe, $35)

What’s a nice Jewish boy doing in a place like this? It’s a question that haunts this fascinating memoir about a world largely off-limits to Western audiences.

Japan is a curious modern phenomenon, only recently an enemy then an economic miracle, and mostly in our media because of controversies over whales or US bases. Adelstein addresses these imbalances in spades and explains his entry into the secretive world of journalism and the yakuza.

The process of getting a job with the prestige newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun was challenging. Take this conversation during a second-round interview:
“You’re Jewish, yes?”
“Yes, nominally.”
“A lot of people in Japan believe that Jews control the world economy. What do you think about that?”
“Do you think that if the Jews really did control the world economy I’d be applying for a job as a newspaper reporter here? I know what the first-year salary is like.”

Adelstein got the job.

His first task was to investigate the pound of flesh illegal Israeli street-sellers had to pay the mob for being allowed to sell fake watches and jewellery. “They [the yakuza] get 30 to 35 per cent of whatever I make,” an Israeli tells the journalist. It was his introduction to endemic corruption.

The published story was (laboriously) headlined, “Organised Crime Targeting Non-Japanese Street Vendors. Yakuza Find New Way to Squeeze Out ‘Rent’ by Taking Advantage of Illegal Workers (Who Can’t Seek Police Protection).”

Adelstein’s future stories were far grittier – chasing rapists and investigating sex districts and hostess bars. But one discovery changed everything. He broke the blockbuster yarn of top yakuza boss Tadamasa Goto, the “John Gotti of Japan”, who cut a deal with the FBI to rat on his colleagues in exchange for a liver transplant at UCLA.

Adelstein recently told the US magazine Foreign Policy that the Japanese elite’s connection to the mafia is unmatched in the Western world. The country’s leading political party, the Liberal Democrat Party, was originally funded with yakuza money.

He writes: “If you want to understand the nitty-gritty of Japanese politics, you can’t avoid dealing with yakuza issues on one level or another. There have been a great number of politicians with associations to them, though most of the politicians with yakuza ties usually conveniently kill themselves after an investigation begins. I’ve always taken this to mean that suicidal politicians somehow find it very enticing to do business with organised crime. I suppose you could argue that they actually wind up getting killed and having their suicides staged. Possible.”

Adelstein’s strength as a journalist and author is his brutal honesty, his willingness to ditch the false reporting rules of “objectivity”. “Balance” is the refuge of the weak when faced with humanity’s dark side. Thus, when working on human trafficking stories, Adelstein paid for abortions, even air fares, for women who were abused and often didn’t even know the identity of their attacker.

“I did what I could,” he writes, “and, of course, I was breaking all the rules of objectivity. Don’t get involved. I got involved.”

His marriage started to break down. Like a war correspondent, he began to disengage with everything in the world that didn’t relate to his work. “When lying is part of your job,” he laments, “you forget how love is supposed to work.”

The culture-clash aspects of the story are interesting but eventually the least insightful. Japan reads unlike anywhere else on the planet – a land of repression, deep secrets and haunted whispers. Adelstein loves the place, revels in its insanity. A price remains on his head, a constant reminder of a previous experience that was never half-lived.

This is a book that reads like a demented rescue tale. Adelstein cares for the victims of a Japanese society that spits out the unwanted with vigorous anger. He now dedicates his life to documenting the sick trade of human trafficking.

You’ll never see Japan in the same way again.

one comment ↪
  • ikke

    He was on The Daily Show and it was one of the most bizarre interviews I have ever seen on TDS. Very interesting -and kind of spooky.