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.

How Wikileaks has opened our eyes to the world

My following review appeared in this week’s Sydney Sun Herald:

Underground
Suelette Dreyfus and Julian Assange
(Random House, $24.95)
Inside Wikileaks
Daniel Domscheit-Berg
(Scribe, $29.95)

During a rare public appearance in March, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told a packed audience at Cambridge University that the internet is the “greatest spying machine the world has ever seen”.

Although he praised the ability of the web to inform and challenge the established order, he said to students that, “it is a technology that can be used to set up a totalitarian spying regime, the likes of which we have never seen.”

Assange’s message was clear: Wikileaks had provided invaluable information on a range of issues that society had not previously known but repressive states could equally use the same tools – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and others – to track and arrest dissidents. We have seen this happen in the last months in Egypt, Libya and across the Arab world.

These two books – one written by a former confidante of Assange at Wikileaks and the other by a colleague who penned this definitive hacking tome in the late 1990s – offers insights into the ideology behind the whistle-blowing website and why it’s touched such a raw nerve in the halls of power.

During a recent interview on ABC TV’s Q&A, Prime Minister Julia Gillard dismissed Wikileaks, argued that there is no “moral purpose” behind the leaks and accused Assange of believing in an “anarchic, here it all is, just have it” ideology.

Gillard could not have been more mistaken. Reading Underground, an updated edition of the 1997 release, co-written with Dr Suelette Dreyfus, we are taken into a world of global hackers whose “youthful curiosity was more about adventure than serious crime.”

Assange has a very clear moral code, one that is much less fawning towards American power than displayed by Gillard.
We read about the Australian Federal Police attempting to understand the motivation of young men (and it was mostly men) who were determined to prove that corporations and universities should not chose what remains private from the public. These are classic David vs. Goliath tales, with the US military, NASA and law enforcement agencies realising that the internet revolution could not be so easily tracked like communication technology before it.

The context for the times is the end of the Cold War with the continuation of the “Secret State [as] the world’s most powerful western spy agencies were reinventing themselves to spy on their own citizens instead of Russian KGB agents”.

A decade after September 11, 2001, the levels of official snooping massively exceeds the relatively innocent period of the 1990s. Little accountability takes place. As Assange discussed at Cambridge university, governmental monitoring of social media is now ubiquitous.

It was revealed in March that the US military was working with a private company to covertly influence Facebook and Twitter and institute fake online personas to spread pro-Washington propaganda and allegedly stop terrorism.

Wikileaks would not believe a word of this program, questioning the reasons anybody should have the right to obtain information on potentially billions of global citizens.

Former Wikileaks collaborator Daniel Domscheit-Berg would surely share this scepticism. His book is a curious combination of personal attacks on Assange – “So imaginative. So energetic. So brilliant. So paranoid. So power-hungry. So megalomanic” – and a passionate defence of the need to provide transparency in democracies.

He was, in his own words, Assange’s best friend and they fell out terribly. His book is like a scorned lover explaining what went wrong (from his perspective).

Although it’s undeniably interesting to read a close account of Assange and his supposedly unhealthy ego, the validity of the analysis has been denied by the Wikileaks founder. Domscheit-Berg explains the ways in which the website developed into a multi-million dollar operation. He wanted it to be “the most aggressive press organisation in the world, public and visible’’. Assange supposedly preferred an “insurgent operation”, to avoid the ever-increasing number of enemies who wanted to shut the site down.

Domscheit-Berg writes that Assange said that living underground was the best way to avoid detection. His paranoia was arguably justified, considering the leaked documents from the UK and US governments that outline ways to destroy Wikileaks and crush its credibility.

The Wikileaks story has just begun.

2 comments ↪
  • John Candido

    The advent of Wikileaks will lead to a better world, because it seeks to disseminate the unvarnished truth from governments, bureaucracies, and corporations. Wikileaks is an epiphany, and all people behind it are public heroes. It is an epoch-making NGO that has forever transformed our understanding of rigorous journalism, as well as the public's expectations of their right to accurate and timely information about governments and corporations. It will transform and educate the public's understanding of war, truth in government, secrecy, diplomacy, intelligence, corporations, and transnational business. The upshot of this will be a marked change in relationships between journalists, governments, diplomats, corporations, and members of the public on a host of issues.

  • John Candido

    The advent of Wikileaks will lead to a better world, because it seeks to disseminate the unvarnished truth from governments, bureaucracies, and corporations, and the empowerment of the public and special interest groups. Wikileaks is an epiphany, and all people behind it are public heroes. It is an epoch-making NGO that has forever transformed our understanding of rigorous journalism, as well as the public's expectations of their right to accurate and timely information about governments and corporations. It will transform, empower, and educate the public's understanding of war, truth in government, secrecy, diplomacy, intelligence, corporations, and transnational business. The upshot of this will be a marked change in relationships between journalists, governments, diplomats, corporations, and members of the public on a host of issues.