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.

Why internet censorship is a fool’s paradise

My following article is published today by the Sydney Morning Herald/Age online:

We live under the illusion that governments can protect us from the evils of the world.

Paedophilia, extreme violence, lessons in self-harm and suicide, race hatred and terrorism. We have every right to expect governments to monitor hate and terror sites and arrest and prosecute those who aim to do harm to others.

But censoring the internet will have no effect on insulating us from these horrors. It’s false security, comforting election-cycle rhetoric to convince fearful parents and scared teachers.

And that’s just in the West.

Having spent time in numerous repressive states, such as Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China, there is no indication that these nations are any better at protecting their citizens from the darkest recesses of the internet or the mind. Millions of users find ways around filtering services provided by Western multinationals.

Besides, tell me how trying to ban YouTube videos of men kissing or women driving – both illegal acts in brutal, US-backed Saudi Arabia – proves anything other than officials will filter material that suits their political agenda? Who here trusts our government, of any stripe, to transparently only block content that is harmful to children?

Already in Europe there are debates about banning websites that allegedly endorse terrorism. But who decides? Resistance movements that oppose American and Australian actions in Iraq and Afghanistan? Elected Palestinian parties such as Hamas backed by millions of Arabs? The powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah, regarded as a terrorist organisation in many Western capitals, but lionised across the Muslim world?

We are not far from the day in this country when shrieking voices will advocate the filtering of political content that offends certain sensibilities, ethnic groups, racial minorities or political parties. This does not mean it’s good public policy designed to improve social harmony. Censorship is always about a form of control. No society has complete freedom of speech but we should be very mindful of any governments that tell us filtering will be painless and cost-free.

Although tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and mobile phones are invaluable in connecting dissidents, activists and protesters, as we saw in Iran last year during the post-election uprising, authorities can equally use the same technology to monitor and find perceived enemies. This is censorship on heat, killing any chance of web utopia.

Democracy doesn’t arrive through the net; it comes through people power. Government censorship merely reinforces the fear of change and shows citizens how afraid dictatorships are of true democracy and public engagement. If anything, it can harm democratic aspirations of the oppressed by giving unprecedented insight into people’s private lives and movements.

Social ills are not reversed. For example, in Iran heroin addiction is soaring due to its easy accessibility from a chaotic neighbouring Afghanistan. Blocking websites that either celebrate its use or provide information how to find the drug of choice has had no effect on the problem.

The internet is unlike any other medium. Books, films and art can be relatively easily banned, mass distribution stopped with the flick of a pen. Websites can move, evolve and re-emerge days, weeks or months later.

Respecting the intelligence of a parent to monitor a child’s activities is seemingly beyond the capability of many Western states, including Norway, Finland, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand, nations that have all blocked sites said to contain child pornography but impacts on limiting access to the obscene content has been minimal.

We don’t oppose schools, teachers and parents implementing methods to help protect children from harmful online content but the Rudd government appears incapable of understanding that imposing a draconian system only brings suspicion and resistance. In a modest sign of self-policing, Facebook UK recently announced increased online safety, including a 24-hour police hotline and education campaign to manage cyber-bullying and stalking.

Let’s look at some classic overseas examples. The implementation of internet censorship in Iran is comical. Type the name of former American vice-president Dick Cheney into a search engine and you’ll be blocked from going any further. “Dick” is a supposedly sexual word for repressed Iranian officials. But Richard Cheney is fine. Also “teen”, “oral”, “cock”, “Asian” and thousands of others are banned. Even singer Bruce Springsteen was inaccessible during my visit in 2007 because it contained the word “teen”. The word “woman” was sometimes filtered. “Queer” and “wanker” are OK words but many gay and trans-gender sites are blocked. Unsurprisingly, enterprising individuals are designing software to bypass these rules.

The Islamic Republic is an extreme case – aided and abetted in their censorship by companies such as Nokia and Siemens who sold a monitoring centre to Tehran in 2008 – but growing numbers of countries see Iran and China as the model of “stability”. Market freedom but political repression.

Perhaps it’s time to admit in the West that we don’t know what we’re doing. While internet use is booming across the world – in the past year alone, more than 21 million Indonesians from fewer than a million 12 months before now use Facebook, making it the world’s third largest Facebook community – many non-democratic nations are using similar arguments to Western states in monitoring the web. In late April, the United Arab Emirates announced that the interior ministry would check the identity of anyone using the internet in public places to fight cyber-crime and child pornography. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy surely gave the UAE his talking points.

The web is as powerful as its users and as influential as we all want it to be. It’s not infallible or perfect and any democracy should care what content is available. But for governments to be trusted to censor content, with the churches riding bareback alongside their ideological colleagues, should worry us all.

This is an edited version of a speech given as part of the affirmative panel at Tuesday night’s iQ2 debate on the proposition that governments should not censor the internet. Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney journalist and author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution.

2 comments ↪
  • Mallee

    The reason they want to have  internet censorship can be gleamed from the article:

    'Mind Control Theories and Techniques used by Mass Media' which may be found linked at 911blogger.com on 13th May 2010;

    http://911blogger.com/news/2110=05-12/mind-contro…………

    Any problesm with the link, just scroll down the page for the 13th. The heading has a nice picture of a blonde lass sitting behind a typwriter saluting. The caption reads;

                                            

                                            YOU WRITE WHAT YOU"RE TOLD.

                                                   THANKS CORPORATE NEWS.

                            WE COULDN"T CONTROL THE PEOPLE WITHOUT YOU

                                   a message from the ministry of homelan security

    Says it all, but we sheep already know that and just let them shear us at will.

    I can see our poltical 'leader' soon, sitting behind a desk with the spotlight shining at we the 'person' chained in a chair in front of one of them and the notice above the 'director' wil be more like:

                                              YOU THINK AND ACT AS YOU ARE TOLD.

    Our democracy is an illusion; either, use the rugby democracy ball or lose it, too many of our boys have died for our 'freedoms and way of life'.

    Thanks a lot to those in the corporate and 'our' ABC that are contributing to the anti-democratic agenda.

    You listening; RUDD, ABBOTT, Conroy?

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