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.

Tamils vote for independence — and will vote against Labor

My following article appears in today’s Crikey:

Australia’s Tamil community want an independent homeland in Sri Lanka. And they want respect from a Federal Government here that is now denying visa applications to their people.

Last weekend saw thousands of Australian Tamils vote on the Vaddukoddai Resolution in a show of support for an independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. They’ve told Crikey they’re angered by Kevin Rudd’s statements on refugees; some are preparing to campaign against sitting members during the federal election.

Results show overwhelming support locally as elections in Norway, France, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, Germany and Britain saw 99% of voting Tamils back the proposal. The vote has no real political consequence, though it proves the potency of the idea of independence for a traumatised people who simply don’t trust a majority Sinhalese-Buddhist elite to treat them with equality.

I was an election monitor on Sunday in the outer Sydney suburb of Oxley Park (and visited another polling booth in Homebush) and spoke to countless Tamils who expressed their growing anger at Labor’s refugee policies. Many said they would vote Greens for the first time in their lives.

Some live in marginal seats, such as Parramatta (Labor’s Julie Owens), Greenway (Liberal’s Louise Markus), Bennelong (Labor’s Maxine McKew) and Lowe (Labor’s John Murphy). Crikey understands some Tamils are seriously considering contributing to targeted campaigns in some seats against sitting Labor members.

Labor’s Holroyd City Council Councillor Tamil Vasee Rajadurai told Crikey he was “disappointed” with Rudd’s latest refugee shift. Although he called the Prime Minister a “compassionate” man who apologised to the Stolen Generations and would never sink to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s race-baiting level, he asked the Australian government to understand that Tamils were increasingly fleeing Sri Lanka for a reason.

The Councillor said that it would take years before viable Tamil politicians would emerge in Sri Lanka due to the level of intimidation by government forces in the north and east of the country.

Vyramuthu Vijayasivajie, who arrived in Australia 17 years ago, epitomised the sentiment I heard all day. He always voted Labor but said this year he would for the first time be voting Greens. His antipathy towards the Federal Government was palpable.

In the final stages of the war last year he told me the ALP “stayed silent; while in opposition, Kevin Rudd and the party were quite vocal about the situation in Sri Lanka.” During the crisis, he continued, the Greens spoke out against the atrocities and he was especially happy to hear leader Bob Brown condemn Colombo’s onslaught and the Rudd government’s silence.

Vijayasivajie, 56, met Labor MP Julie Owens last year and told her that if he had no family in Australia he would want to join the Tamils in their fight against the Sri Lankan forces. “She didn’t say much to that,” he said.

He was “angry” with Rudd’s hardening of refugee policy and was scared of “another Tampa”. He personally knew of Tamil women raped by Sri Lankan armed gangs in the country’s north, roaming at night in the areas where Tamils are released after enforced detention.

During last week’s Community Cabinet Meeting in Sydney, Immigration Minister Chris Evans was asked by two Tamils to justify the Rudd government’s suspension of refugee claims from Sri Lanka. Evans claimed the security situation in Sri Lanka had “improved” and two “democratic” elections had been held since the end of the conflict in May 2009. The minister believed in “positive engagement” with Colombo “to provide more security for the Tamil people” — “shouting from the sidelines” was futile.

NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon — running for a Senate seat in this year’s federal election — told Crikey that her party is currently crafting its election strategy but she is hearing a great deal of frustration with ALP policy on Tamil and Afghan refugees.

There is “considerable disquiet in inner-city seats [such as Lindsay Tanner’s seat of Melbourne] where people are outraged that Rudd, who was elected with great promise and hope, had not ended the inhumanity that the Howard government had displayed towards refugees.”

But the ALP may also have troubles in outer Sydney seats such as Reid, Rhiannon argued, because the Greens had “carved much territory” after the 2001 Tampa affair. The party saw a mass influx of new members.

A number of Tamils told me, and this is confirmed by Rhiannon, that Rudd’s asylum seeker stance is denying Tamils and Afghanis due process, a position arguably harsher than under Howard. This is because their claims aren’t even being considered; they are being denied a rightful hearing. It may be “worse than temporary protection visas”, Rhiannon says.

Councillor Rajadurai told me the “President of Sri Lanka has the opportunity in his hands to begin reconciliation [with Tamils] now. It’s the best time to do this now but the signs are not there.”

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution

  • Pingback: Tamil Justice » Blog Archive » Will K Rudd’s asylum seeker policy make the Tamils vote for the Greens?()

  • Interesting report, Antony, thanks. Labor's rightward shift on asylum seekers needs to be seen as an artefact of Australia's political system. The Alternative Vote, two-party-preferred set-up, with near-compulsory voting and compulsory preferencing, corrals the Left vote into Labor's column because they have nowhere else to go: the only alternative is supporting the Coalition, which is worse. Something has to happen to break that system: to increase the cost to Labor of attempting to track the Abbott tendency on issues like asylum – presently seen as a cost-free option, in electoral terms. Voting Green would not be enough on its own: perhaps we need a vote strike, until there is a proper choice on a short list of key issues, beginning with asylum seekers? Choice that can only be supplied if Labor starts to show some leadership, explaining to Australians that the numbers of asylum seekers are very small, they have a right to cross borders in search of sanctuary, we can easily absorb them and they benefit the economy?