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.

How to report on a descent into African hell

My following review appeared in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

A reporter puts ethics aside when he becomes involved in a bloody rebellion in Liberia.

MY FRIEND THE MERCENARY
James Brabazon
Text Publishing, 304pp, $34.95

Some journalists live under the delusion that they are objective creatures, unable to be bought or sold and committed to telling the truth. Many strive for this goal but others take sides out of necessity or choice.

In war zones, lines are deliberately blurred, with Western governments routinely working with the most brutal individuals in the name of liberation and victory. The role of supposedly independent reporters in these situations should be clear: victims are given precedence.

Witness one of the finest conflict journalists, Nir Rosen, embedded with the Taliban in 2008 (and the fierce criticism he received for spending time with the “enemy”). His task was to understand the other side, to hear why so many Afghans and foreign fighters were determined to battle the invaders.

Sometimes, clear ethics take a back seat to a rollicking good adventure. The British journalist James Brabazon descended into hell in Liberia in 2002 by striving to document the civil war. The political struggle between President Charles Taylor (now facing war crimes charges in The Hague) and the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy was heating up and soon resulted in extreme violence. “I had been to war before, several times, but nothing like Liberia,” he told Vice magazine in June. “That was the first time I had people trying to kill me at close range.”

Brabazon writes with a pace and passion that reflect a journalist obsessed with the story. After coming down with amoebic dysentery, he is close to broken, and death stares him in the face:

“Battered by near-constant rains, the terrain was sodden. We passed through one last village, whose dilapidated houses hardly kept the encroaching jungle at bay. Deserted, it reeked of putrid flesh. We marched in silence, and out of the shadow of a decrepit hut thatched with torn raffia hobbled a child covered with infected burns. Her limbs were swollen with gangrene. She stood and watched us pass her. The stench was unbreathable. No one stopped. No one spoke. We carried on in silence and left her there to die.”

He travelled with a small camera crew and bodyguard, Nick du Toit, a former South African special forces colonel. The two men soon became close friends and the journalist started hearing details of an impending coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea led by a former SAS officer, Simon Mann, and Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister.

The die was cast; the writer planned to be witness to a criminal act of sabotage and robbery.

The attempted coup was a spectacular disaster. Thatcher escaped jail but Mann and Du Toit spent years in the harshest prisons in Africa. Du Toit, with whom Brabazon formed a lasting friendship, told London’s Observer in mid-June that the coup attempt only went ahead because he had been assured that both the British and South African governments were behind it. Brabazon escaped prison by a stroke of good luck.

The appeal of this intriguing book is the constant internal dialogue undertaken by the writer that displays his unease with how to report a story in which he is directly involved. For example, when Britain’s Channel 4 asks him to refer to Du Toit as a “mercenary”, he initially refuses out of loyalty to his friend. He acknowledges the impossibility of being objective when examining the story but his honesty is refreshing; he doesn’t claim to be anything he is not.

Brabazon paints Du Toit, now working for a vehicle sales company in Yemen, as a fascinating contradiction. He is brash and arrogant but also humble with a growing affection for African democracy (as long as he can make money in the process). “You have to get rid of the dictators,” he tells the author, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his actions on the continent (during South Africa’s apartheid and beyond) contributed to the maintenance of a dysfunctional political reality.

“The unpalatable truth,” Brabazon writes, “is that adversity breeds friendships that transcend moral judgments.” He still regards his “mercenary” as a friend.

one comment ↪
  • Marilyn

    What is his conection to the criminal statelet is what I am bemused about.   He's about 12 years old, clearly has no handle on history of any kind and has not bothered to find out any.

    I wonder how the little jerk is going to respond when Gillard decides to be harsh to refugees.