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.

Democracy and Middle East problems sorted at Perth Writer’s Festival

As if.

But it’s been a wonderful few days here in sunny and very warm Perth.

My first session yesterday was alongside philosopher Raimond Gaita on Gaza: Zionism and Anti-Zionism.

Rai outlined his belief that a two-state solution was the best and most just way to resolve the Middle East crisis and didn’t accept my contention that Zionism is inherently racist due to its discrimination since the first days of Israel’s founding.

I countered that Greater Israel in 2011 cannot be separated from the mainstream. The West Bank occupation is backed by all mainstream Zionist parties; it only strengthens and grows every year. The Israeli left or peace movement is incredibly weak. It exists and I deeply admire its resilience but far too many Israeli Jews have simply remained silent as the country descended into a colonisation-friendly land. It needs outside help to gather major power (something many activists in Israel told when I was last there).

I argued that boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was the only way to show Israel that its behaviour was unacceptable and it would not be treated like a “normal” nation until it followed international law.

Rai has an emotional connection to Israel – his wife is Israeli – but I argued that this blinded him to the inability and unwillingness of the Zionist state to reform to what he says is possible; a just Jewish-majority nation that treats all its citizens equally.

It was a robust but friendly engagement with roughly 2/3 of the audience seemingly agreeing with my points and around 1/3 apparently upset with any criticisms of Israel (there are many South African Jews in Perth and I heard one Zionist leader leave near the end shouting, “Enough of this anti-Semitism.” Yes, she was deeply missed).

What pleased me was that raising questions about a one-state solution, ending Zionism, embracing BDS and discussing the racist nature of Israeli society were increasingly acceptable discussion points in the mainstream. As it should be.

My second event alongside Ken Crispin, John Keane, Tariq Ali was The Democracy Debate. We all tackled different areas but the main theme was one of defining democracy and not simply presuming that accountable democracy would automatically occur.

I mentioned Wall Street’s massive corruption scandals in the last years and reminded people that nobody had been prosecuted for these crimes. Arguably more money was stolen by major banking firms than all brutal dictatorships in the world combined. And this was in the US, the land of the supposedly freest and most open democracy.

Wikileaks is an essential new tool in challenging the cosy relationship between power and the media, exposing the ways of our governments kept hidden by officials and many journalists. Such websites clearly help democracies and should be backed. Of course, many journalists don’t like Julian Assange’s site because it tackles their own closeness to power and inherently wonders why the embedded mindset is so central to modern reporting.

“The Arab world has created these democratic movements despite of us not because of us”, I said. Tariq Ali and John Keane both expressed admiration for what’s happening across the Middle East and how out of touch US and Western foreign policy seems in response.

Closer to home – and these comments were warmly received here in Western Australia – I asked why governments of all major political stripes were so keen to debase democracy by selling off public assets to a company such as British multinational Serco. A protest recently took place in Perth against the impending privatisation of local hospital services.

After the event, as all of us were signing our books, many people approached me and said they felt frustrated with the lack of public and media discussion about the issue of Serco slowly working its way into the Western Australian political system. Perth is a one-paper town and it’s very narrowly-focused. Clearly time to further investigate how Serco is operating here.

Finally, after the event, a Vietnam veteran stormed up to Tariq Ali and me and wanted to know why “people like us” contributed to wars being inaccurately reported (during the event I had called for the media to show the realities of our colonial wars, therefore making it far harder for governments to send our troops to futile endeavours). He said that the West had essentially won the Vietnam War but the Western media had convinced the public at home that it was too cruel. I said that good journalists don’t work to parrot military or government spin.

2 comments ↪
  • Aaron

    Peculiar story about that Vietnam Vet. I've heard that more and more lately, how the American right have – along with canonising Reagan – retroactively decided America won Vietnam and it was only the "far left" that prevented the American people from understanding this great and glorious victory.

    Hard to know to what end that myth is being promoted but none of them seem attractive. I can't help but think of the scripted coverage of the withdrawal of the "last US combat troop" to withdraw from Iraq last year: soldiers in the back of a truck heading towards Kuwait, one of them says something along the lines of "Yeah, we won! we brought democracy to Iraq!" to the camera (and of course, no mention of the 50,000 US Army "advisors" or 75,000 US-funded private mercenaries still operating in the country).

  • S. Kenan

    Well spoken Antony. You are right, the Peace movement in Israel is pathetically small. Good on you for arguing for stronger measures and also calling Zionism what is is; a racist concept.