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.

Iran did not have a Twitter revolution

The BBC World Service has published my following article about the internet in Iran (originally published on BBC Persian last week):

The face of murdered Iranian woman Neda Agha Soltan, killed by a bullet in the Iranian capital Tehran, echoed around the world.

Like this, the vast majority of iconic images that documented Iran’s disputed presidential election to the outside world were shot by citizens on mobile phones or digital cameras.

They were raw, brutal, confused and powerful. A society was challenged in a way that rocked the foundations of the state.

Neda’s boyfriend, Caspian Makan, told the UK Guardian newspaper in November 2009 that Neda’s death forced him to become political and speak out against the regime.

“As I left Tehran”, he said, “I was looking around at the good people of Iran, who are kind and patient. They looked so weighed down.”

No revolution

This is exactly the sentiment I found in Iran during my visit there in 2007.

I spoke to countless bloggers, editors and dissidents, to determine the effect of the internet on civil society.

It was both profound and frustrating. The last years have undoubtedly seen a growth in countless websites dedicated to the discussion of once-hidden subjects, from gay emancipation to dating.

But despite the often-liberating nature of the technology, nobody talked about using the web alone to bring democracy.

Besides, many Iranians don’t use the internet, and have other issues on their minds.

After an initially slow acknowledgement of the power of the web to shape public opinion, the conservative clerics appropriated the medium with ruthless efficiency.

Numerous reports have emerged over the last months of an Iranian Cyber Army, which hacks numerous websites critical of the mullahs and threatens stronger action.

One message read: “USA Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access, But They Don’t, We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power.”

A fundamental misreading of last year’s public protests in Iran led many in the West to conclude that a Twitter Revolution was brewing and would inevitably bring down the state.

A journalist from the Atlantic visited the holy city of Qom a few months after the June uprising and found little evidence of tension. In fact, he found “the happy docility of a one-party state.”

Internal repression

This is not to diminish the undeniable resistance to authoritarian rule in the Islamic Republic.

I found an impatience either expressed by leaving the country for better opportunities, or venting anonymously on blogs and online forums. There was fear of being caught by authorities, but also a growing bravery in flouting the “red lines” in society.

Too much of the Western press coverage of Iran reflects the projected wishes of the American political elite – namely “regime change”, or at least a radical shift in policy.

The nuclear enrichment issue hangs over virtually every discussion with Iran. Bloggers both inside and outside the country try to understand the seemingly impenetrable moves of Ahmadinejad and the mullahs.

But the prospect of tighter sanctions against Tehran will likely only result in greater internal repression.

The most appropriate ways to support movements against the regime, according to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, is to back the US State Department’s request for issuing a general license that “would authorise downloads of free mass-market software by companies such as Microsoft and Google to Iran necessary for the exchange of personal communications and/or sharing of information over the internet such as instant messaging, chat and email and social networking.”

But how many Iranians trust the interests of the State Department is another question entirely.

The key question remains: how central is the internet in Iran to challenging the Ahmadinejad regime?

Web commentator Evgeny Morozov wrote in Prospect in January that it was unwise to see online social media as central to the so-called Green Revolution.

He argued that the Iranian government “has not only survived but has in fact become even more authoritarian”, utilising the same tools of the protestors to entrap and monitor their every move.

“What do we really gain”, he asked, “if the ability to organise protests is matched (and perhaps even dwarfed) by the ability to provoke, identity and arrest the protestors?”

Brighter future

The Wall Street Journal outlined in December 2009 the myriad ways that Iran was now monitoring dissenters outside its borders, and interrogated some who arrived in Tehran and demanded Facebook accounts be examined at the Imam Khomeini International Airport.

The ascendency of the Revolutionary Guard to a ruling position is ominous for the foreseeable future.

The simple truth is that brutal regimes can block the use of text messages and email, and detain, torture and kill opponents.

There is little dissidents can do in the short-term to counter these overwhelming factors, as we have seen in Burma and China.

I have heard from various sources that many once-active bloggers have gone underground for fear of arrest. The online voices from Iran we are reading today are therefore either strongly backing Ahmadinejad, or the forces against him but the latter are at a distinct disadvantage without the apparatus of the state behind them.

Iran’s future will not be written in London or Washington. We should be cautious of any Western player claiming to know what the Iranian people want.

Exaggerating the influence of the internet on Iranian society is dangerous, but so is excluding its potentially liberating effect.

I remember speaking to many Iranians in the country who couldn’t imagine life without the ability to communicate with friends, lovers and students, and share stories that were once only whispered.

Predicting the demise of the Islamic Republic is a fool’s game.

But we can listen to the thoughts and requests of Iranians who long for a brighter future, both those online and the millions of others who dream of the day when their country’s poverty is alleviated.

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution. This article was written for the BBC’s Persian service.

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