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.

This is what Australia is doing to refugees in its care

The reality of life in Australia for asylum seekers is too rarely heard.

So when Perth-based refugee activist Victoria Martin-Iverson wrote to me yesterday with the story below I asked if I could publish it here exclusively. This is the reality of privatised refugees, mostly ignored in a country that doesn’t seem too interested in the human rights of those it fears.

Our job is to humanise everybody:

As a long time refugee advocate and visitor to the concentration camps where asylum seekers are warehoused, I regularly struggle with the tension between disclosure, and protecting peoples privacy. After all, one of my criticisms of the government is the way they use asylum seekers & their suffering as a method of deterrence. I do not want to be guilty of the same offence and use someone’s suffering for my political agenda, however honourable my intentions. Yet it is clear that if all I am doing is bearing witness, or comforting an individual, then I am missing the opportunity to involve others and explain the human cost of the regimen people endure, the arbitrariness of decisions, the incompetency of [British multinational] Serco, the regular petty indignities of a system that is indifferent to even extremes of suffering. But there are times when something so dramatic occurs that I feel I must try to disclose some element of a situation, while at the same time respecting the dignity of the people whose lives are damaged by their experience in immigration detention.

I was presented with just such a circumstance last week. We have made a great many links at the refugee Rights Action Network, and asylum seekers as well as concerned Serco officers will let us know about events in the centres.

On Friday morning I received a frantic call that yet another tormented soul had harmed himself up at Curtin detention centre and had to be rushed to hospital. Self harm is a near daily occurrence up at Curtin. As rising levels of despair infect the entire community, people resort to cutting or burning themselves, hunger striking, medication overdoses, attempted hangings. These are regular and now unremarkable events. They are also predictable. A study done a few year’s ago by O’Neil et al found a direct relationship between time in detention, mental disorders, suicide attempts and self harm. The suicide rate for detainees over the last 15 years is ten times that of the general population. So initially the news that yet another person had injured themselves and required medical treatment was nothing that stuck me as particularly extraordinary. I indicated I would attend hospital to see if I could visit and ensure there was a friendly face and a kind word for what I assumed would be a distressed and fragile person.

I successfully blustered my way into the ward he was on, having filled in the appropriate paperwork before leaving home. He lay heavily sedated, battered and clearly injured in his hospital bed.

I learned that this man had spent the early part of that morning forlornly calling out one of the few English words he knew, “help, help, help.”

He lay shaking & bleeding in his bed with 3 Serco officers looming over him. I asked one to get another blanket for him. “No English” he whispered to me, and I told him that is ok & gently took his hand so he could feel some human contact and comfort. I do not know the details of this Hazara man’s story or what he may have endured in his country of origin. I only know the tell tale signs of previous attempts at self harm marking his arms, and the dull glaze of hopelessness in his eyes that even heavy sedation could not mask. I know that whatever else may have happened to him he has been poorly served by a capricious and arbitrary detention system that has used him and his imprisonment to try and discourage others from attempting the voyage, and worse. A system that is dismissive of his suffering because that is what it takes to win government.

As I sat holding his hand I struggled with my own emotions. My God, how damaged are we making people in our remote detention centers? ? I learned that this person had become so very despondent and mentally unwell and had made several attempts on his life and thus had ended up in a management cell. If his case is anything like the countless others I hear about regularly, the actual level of compassion and support was minimal, the security maximal. Self harm and suicide attempts result in serious fines for Serco. I wonder what sort of treatment or care he received in the time he was in the “management cell”? Whatever they did or didn’t do his mental health deteriorated and he ended up resorting to one of the most tragic acts of despair I can imagine.

In an attempt to take his life this man ran across the room and threw himself through a plate glass window. We need to know what we are doing to people in these mental illness factories we call detention centres that drives them to increasingly extreme acts of despair. This man’s despondency is an indictment of a morally bankrupt government and a polity that is devoid of compassion. We need to begin to change the public discourse around this issue and connect with the human costs.

But all I could do was hold his hand.

6 comments ↪
  • Peter Wilkie

    Mandatory detention is a crime against humanity. Not against all of humanity, but against the humanity of those doing the detaining as well as those being detained. Why are we doing it? Because the Coalition is intent on inciting latent racism and xenophobia in the electorate and the ALP is too cowardly or too useless to stand up to that.

  • Marilyn

    No Peter, the ALP love it.

  • paul walter

    A vile parallel to this on 730 Report on manifestly excessive tasering and verballing by police in WA and suppression of whistelblowers. 

    The arrogance of officials was breathtaking.

    On topic, sad to see another person has been sent nuts and been maimed at a detention centre that studiously ignores duty of care. The public wont squawk until they are in a gitmo, but that's the point, isn't it, as Niemoller pointed out seventy odd years ago?

  • Victoria

    They are in a Gitmo

    Guantanamo Down Under

     

    And are others also noticing more collateral damage: those who have previously been released and living in the community for years now suffering secondary trauma from the reports of self harm and suicide in detention?

  • Liann

    What can we do? How can we be pro-active rather than just sit, read and complain? I am open to anything. Count me in. This is so sad and then when they do get a chance to live in the Australian society, they have to face so much discrimination, racism, ridicule etc. It wont get any easier.

  • Join an activist group. start visiting, and write like crazy to the pollies & newspapers. If you want a different discourse you need to create it.