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.

Wikileaks, the Australian angle

Philip Dorling scored the exclusive Australian Wikileaks cables. He explains today how he did it:

Getting to WikiLeaks’s secret headquarters took quite some time and was not without complications.

This year a careful reading of statements by the WikiLeaks co-founder, Julian Assange, led me to conclude his small organisation had landed what could be the biggest leak of classified information – a vast trove of US documents that, among other things, would provide deep insight into the realities of Australia’s relationship with our most important ally, the US.

As a journalist I thought this was a story worth going for. Curiously few, if any others, thought likewise. Consistent with the old journalistic maxim that ”Noah is a better story than flood control”, most media interest was focused on Assange himself, admittedly an elusive and intensely interesting figure, rather than what he might be about to release through the WikiLeaks website.

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Six months of emails, clandestine meetings and confidential exchanges followed before arrangements for a visit to Britain were locked in.

WikiLeaks takes security very seriously, and it is right to do so. After all, it’s not paranoia when the vast intelligence and security apparatus of the US is arrayed against you. Consequently I flew out from Australia last month without a specific destination, only an instruction on arrival at Heathrow Airport to go to a certain railway station, taking precautions to see whether I was followed.

There, using a public telephone, I phoned a number that had been provided earlier through a secure channel. A voice on the other end gave a single-word reply to my call – the name of a railway station outside London.

I bought a ticket and some hours later arrived on a windswept, rain-splattered railway platform in rural England.

Only a couple of other passengers got off and the platform was quickly deserted. I wondered what the next step would be.

But after a moment a figure emerged from the early evening shadows, with cap pulled down over his head and coat collar turned up, perhaps to make identification difficult but more likely to protect against the bitter wind and sleet.

There was a quick greeting, then a long drive through the countryside to WikiLeaks’s temporary headquarters, made available by a benefactor.

I was greeted by the man himself: modest, unassuming, in T-shirt, tracksuit pants and socks with holes in them.

Assange doesn’t stand on ceremony and is always focused on the task. We got straight down to business – the imminent release, in conjunction with some of the world’s leading newspapers, of a torrent of highly sensitive US diplomatic secrets.

The setting was utterly incongruous. The home was a marvellous example of Georgian elegance, a relic of the pre-industrial age carefully preserved but demonstrating the challenges of maintaining buildings that are close to 300 years old.

On the walls of the drawing room, in effect WikiLeaks operations room, paintings of long-dead defenders of the empire, most in the scarlet uniforms, looked down on a tangle of laptops, printers, wires and power cables and other equipment.

It is said the security-conscious Assange changes mobile phones as often as most people change shirts. This is an understatement. Tables were covered with mobile phones and SIM cards were strewn around like confetti. Resting in one corner was Assange’s backpack, carrying all his worldly goods.

In the morning the countryside reverberated to the sounds of gunfire as the English upper class indulged its passion for bird shooting. Occasionally low-flying air force jets would rattle the windows, prompting jokes about a possible air strike.

For a tiny organisation under immense pressure the atmosphere in temporary WikiLeaks HQ was remarkably calm and relaxed. On the eve of its biggest documents release, the main work area was often silent apart from the sound of typing as documents were formatted and last-minute communications made with the newspapers partnered in the release.

Although WikiLeaks has a big pool of volunteers, the inner core is a small, highly committed group, all working on the basis of only expenses being reimbursed, with remarkably diverse skills ranging from computer programming and language translation to journalism and media liaison.

It is a truly multinational enterprise, with accents from around the globe heard across the breakfast table. Not that everyone appears at breakfast. WikiLeaks runs on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis so a good proportion of the key personnel are essentially nocturnal.

As for Assange, he is an impressive figure. Highly intelligent, articulate and deeply committed to his cause. And he certainly isn’t in it for the money. For someone under immense pressure he was remarkably calm, focused and measured.

Contrary to reports that he is an eccentric egomaniac, he gave every appearance of being good-tempered and humoured, ready to discuss issues and carefully consider advice.

He is certainly a strategic thinker with a fair amount of political and media nous that has turned his organisation into a global phenomenon.

Having entered into talks on the basis of confidentiality, I will not repeat his observations but I found him a highly engaging, thoughtful conversationalist.

He pays close attention to political developments in Australia and has a keen sense of the importance of encouraging more openness.

A frequent theme is the need to cut through the hypocrisy and cant that fills so much of political discourse by enabling citizens to see and hear directly what their leaders think and say in private.

Assange has well and truly kicked the hornets’ nest. He is now in an English prison awaiting extradition proceedings that could mean he will be taken to Sweden to be questioned about sexual misconduct allegations, but which could also open the door for him to be sent to face the wrath of the US government.

It is reported that he is in good spirits and as a highly self-contained person he probably has the inner resources to cope with his difficult circumstances.

Whatever the outcome of these proceedings, one thing was clear. He has given much thought to how WikiLeaks might defend itself from sustained attacks and how it might function without him. The frenzy about WikiLeaks is likely to continue. There will be twists and turns but it looks like WikiLeaks is here to stay and governments will have to get used to that.

Philip Dorling is a Canberra writer and Fairfax contributor.

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