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.

When chocolate isn’t just about eating and enjoying

My following review appears in today’s Weekend Australian newspaper:

Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft, 200 Years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalries, by Deborah Cadbury, Harper Press, 340pp, $35.

Deborah Cadbury is a descendant of the Quaker family whose name has become synonymous with chocolate. In this entertaining and insightful book she reveals just how central confectionary was to the rise of modern capitalism.

In the early 19th century the discovery and consumption of cocoa — a tropical commodity, according to the author — was a source of enjoyment. But soon enough it became a way to make a profitable living. The deeply observant Cadburys discovered a financial appetite for chocolate. Quaker capitalism, a quaint concept in the 21st century, was what launched the Cadbury brand on England and the world.

When the Cadbury family started their enterprise in Britain, about 4000 Quaker families ran 74 banks and more than 200 companies. Very quickly the Cadbury brothers discovered how to manage a fortune and “helped shape the course of the industrial revolution and the commercial world”. Social justice and reform were integral to the early rise of the then exclusive cocoa product but it took two enterprising brothers to revolutionise the industry.

Chocolate Wars opens with a Dickensian scene in mid-19th-century Birmingham. A struggling family was on the verge of financial ruin. The “little bean imported from the New World” was not initially a money spinner. Simply turning cocoa beans into a drink didn’t bring the Cadbury family success and something new was required, a treat that would charm Victorian England at a time of religious and social upheaval.

At the same time, contamination scares — red lead found in cocoa products, supposedly to improve texture — increased public wariness. So it was up to advertising to transform perceptions, despite Quaker hesitation at the ethics of commercial assaults on supposedly unsuspecting customers.

“Cadbury Essence” captured the mood of the time. “Absolutely Pure, Therefore Best”, were the words under a smiling child enjoying a cup of cocoa. In 1869, the Cadbury brothers sealed a patent for a new kind of chocolate biscuit. From this point, Chocolate Wars takes on the spirit of a thriller, as the Nestle family in Europe starts developing rival chocolate products.

Interestingly, Nestle had early success with baby milk formula, a product that remains contentious to this day.

Cadbury was also involved in a controversy that has contemporary echoes, the use of slave labour in plantations. More than a century later, with the Ivory Coast the world’s leading provider of cocoa, child slavery and exploitation remains an area of great concern.

Chocolate Wars uses the struggle over slavery to highlight the battle to end the practice in a different age but a BBC Panorama program earlier this year found a litany of child slavery issues in Ghana, a country where Cadbury sources its cocoa from an advertised Fairtrade supply chain. It’s an uncomfortable reality largely ignored in this book.

But Deborah Cadbury does an admirable job of documenting the conflict between a family’s Quaker beliefs and the moods of the day. For example, their anti-war stance aroused suspicions during World War I.

Fast forward to 2003 and Cadbury chief executive Todd Stitzer expressed concern that the company was growing so fast it would lose touch with its original, humanitarian beliefs. He talked about “principled capitalism”, which included, for example, the need to reduce carbon emissions.

The takeover of Cadbury by American food giant Kraft early this year prompts the author to speculate on the fate of a once-proud British name and image. She rightly worries about the viability of altruistic objectives in today’s corporate world, values that seemed so necessary to her enterprising family in the 19th century.

She is sceptical about the Kraft stewardship and laments a more honourable time when “revenue synergies” were not in the business lexicon.

This aspect of the Cadbury story will resonate in Australia because foreign takeovers of local companies — Kraft owns our national spread, Vegemite — invoke a combination of pride, anger and passionate nationalism.

Antony Loewenstein is a journalist and author. His most recent book is The Blogging Revolution.

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