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.

Hungry for a kinder regime

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

Tom Keneally
Knopf, 324pp, $49.95

History is littered with catastrophic examples of government-induced disasters. A new book by the University of Hong Kong’s Frank Dikotter, Mao’s Great Famine, claims that 45 million people were killed between 1958 and 1962. Mao achieved this by “collectivising everybody” and forcing “famished people” to work as slave labour.
Today, according to the United Nations, roughly 25,000 people die daily of hunger or hunger-related causes. The recent meeting in New York to assess the Millennium Development Goals found global poverty had reduced but nearly a billion people still were experiencing extreme poverty.

Tom Keneally’s latest work is a detailed examination of how societies should not function. He explains why millions died in Ireland, Bengal and Ethiopia and how “mindsets of governments, racial preconceptions and administrative incompetence were more lethal than the initiating blights, the loss of potatoes or rice or livestock or of the grain named teff”.

The book opens with a graphic description of the effect of hunger on the body – swelling stomachs, the “self-devouring state”, heart damage and profound depression – that is largely unseen in the West. Keneally chastises “disaster tourism” and wonders what it will take to force Westerners to see the issue as a phenomenon of the present, not just the past. His well-crafted historical narrative echoes with modern relevance, as there are famines today in various parts of Africa and beyond, mostly away from journalists and bloggers.

In the disasters covered by Three Famines we learn about the necessity of families to economise on the amount eaten daily and the inevitable reduction in healthy food for the body, bringing immune systems to collapse. People in Ethiopia and Bengal were forced to sell bicycles, radios, pots, pans, furniture, jewellery and anything else that would buy needed grain.

Keneally documents the social breakdown in countries where living communally was the only way. For example, the role of landlords in feudal states caused families to be both heavily indebted to men of influence and desperate to find ways to get money when they no longer had land as an insurance policy.

Tragically, religious beliefs often meant life or death. In Bengal, Muslims were unable to eat pigs and turtles and Hindus could not consume cattle: “Many Brahmin women, the members of the intellectual and priestly caste, rather than lower themselves to hunt for food, wasted to death in their homes because they could not bring themselves to eat gruel prepared by either lower-caste or Muslim hands.”

Fear, greed and delusion drove the politics that ultimately sealed the fate of millions. In Ireland, between 1845 and 1852, about a million people died not only from disease but also from government incompetence and an unquestioning belief in the magic of the market to rectify the issues. Lower, middle and upper class resistance was inevitable and Keneally praises a “brave speech” by the leader of Young Ireland, William Smith O’Brien, for going on strike and being imprisoned due to his belief that only mass uprising could solve the nation’s problems. If only revolution had occurred years earlier.

In Bengal in the early 1940s, about 3 million died due to malnutrition and Keneally wonders about the culpability of Winston Churchill; the British prime minister doesn’t escape blame. Readers of a new book by Richard Toye, Churchill’s Empire, will be under no illusion about Churchill’s profound racism towards the subcontinent.
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion,” he said. He blamed the Bengalis for “breeding like rabbits” and didn’t offer any aid for months as hundreds of thousands perished. Bengal suffered as Britain focused on saving white men from Nazi aggression.

Ethiopia also resonates with colonial pain. Keneally details the brutal civil war under the rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam, a Cold War warrior whose army operated with virtual impunity, destroying lives. An Ethiopian refugee explains there was no hunger before the military went on constant rampages. The Live Aid movement was born at this time and publicly claimed to save millions of starving people. But according to a BBC investigation this year, untold amounts of money were spent on buying weapons and not food for the huddled masses. Hundreds of thousands of people died in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s.

Three Famines is a brave attempt at humanising a complex problem that can so easily drown in overwhelming numbers. Keneally warns of new challenges, not least AIDS and climate change. He rightly argues that more Western aid, while not always the panacea, remains essential. The colonial legacy in Africa has barely been acknowledged in the West and famine is its bastard child.

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