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.

Green new world?

The following article is co-written with Lee Rhiannon, New South Wales Greens Senate candidate in the forthcoming collection and appears in Online Opinion:

The bottom line for big business is return on investment for shareholders. However, the way a business is perceived as environmentally friendly or destructive seriously affects their profits. This is why corporations increasingly try to persuade the population at large that they are our ethical guardians and conscientious caretakers of the environment.

Take the mining industry’s reaction to the recently neutered resources super tax (RST). The Minerals Council of Australia released advertisements claiming that the new tax would result in catastrophic job losses and a crippled Australian minerals sector – emphasising that their main concern was the loss of jobs. Yet the very same industry, during a time of record profits from November 2009 to March 2010, made 10,500 forced redundancies. It’s clear that this talk of “community concern” is only used when it suits the needs or image of big business.

The outcome of the RST served to highlight the government’s closeness to the mining companies. It was a reminder of the powerful influence major corporations maintain over our political processes. Transparency simply doesn’t exist and public cynicism inevitably grows.

The problem isn’t isolated to the mining industry. Even the most common aspects of our day-to-day of life, such as the water we drink, are affected. In 2008 Mount Franklin (a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Amatil) ran a trio of “earth-conscious” promotions. Prizes included a hybrid car and a trip to an eco-resort in the Daintree rainforest. This ethical posturing as “environmentally friendly” only served to obscure the environmental consequences of producing bottled water.

Coca-Cola paid just $181 for a water-extraction licence that allowed them to take 66 million litres of water from the Mangrove Mountain aquifer in NSW and yet bottled water is still more expensive than petrol. Even though PET bottles are completely recyclable, only 35 per cent of the bottles actually get recycled. The remaining 65 per cent of bottles end up in landfill, taking over 20 years to break down.

Because they have no reason to behave ethically, other than fear of a negative public image, some industries will use all means at their disposal to generate profits. This includes hypocritical marketing campaigns. For example in 2004 BP launched a nationwide ad campaign in the US framing itself as the “global leader” in clean energy production. Since becoming the “global leader”, BP has been involved in the dubious manipulation of the US propane market (in 2004); a devastating explosion at a BP refinery in Texas, killing 15 workers and injuring 170 (in 2005); and a spill of 260,000 gallons into the Arctic tundra from a BP pipeline in Alaska (in 2006). Throughout that period, BP’s sales rose from $192 billion in 2004, $240 billion in 2005 and $266 billion in 2006.

Following the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Mexican Gulf, the consequences of which are still immeasurable, new information is emerging every day on the many ways in which BP cut corners when it came to safeguards on the rig, some which have been implicated in the current disaster. Yet BP’s outgoing CEO, Tony Hayward, received a 40 per cent pay increase in 2009 based on BP’s “improved performance.” On leaving BP, Hayward said that his company had been the “model of corporate social responsibility” in addressing the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The simple fact is that the majority of large corporations will do whatever it takes to generate increased profits. We shouldn’t fool ourselves by thinking otherwise. And governments are often helping. In the US, both Republican and Democrat members of congress have received large contributions from BP. The top 10 recipients, including Barack Obama and his opposition in the 2008 presidential election John McCain, netted combined contributions from BP in excess of $388,000. The transformation to a low-carbon economy, inevitable through climate change and a scarcity of non-renewable resources, fills some people with the hope that this type of business culture will change. But this is not certain.

For instance, links have been discovered between the transnational electric car company Better Place and the Israeli army’s illegal behaviour in occupied Palestinian territory. According to the Sydney Morning Herald in July, Ben Keneally, husband of the NSW Premier, runs the Australian arm’s marketing and strategy and the firm is currently lobbying for NSW government support. The company has built charging stations along Highway 443, a road that runs 30km through Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Part of the highway remains inaccessible to indigenous Palestinians despite an Israeli High Court ruling demanding equal access for both Palestinians and Israelis. Just because a company makes electric cars doesn’t mean they are ethically or environmentally sound.

The idea that industry should be left to make its own ethical decisions is both dangerous and misguided. Unless Australians take the time to listen carefully to what they’re told is “good” or “green”, some big business will continue to get away with unethical behaviour. But the fact that industry feels the need to engage in ethical and environmentally friendly marketing is a positive sign. It suggests that community pressure does have an influence on how corporations behave.

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