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.

Asylum seeker anger explodes across Australia (while Serco ignores humanity)

What do we expect when we treat people like animals to be locked up indefinitely while our too-few-officials manage the problem, often receiving “intelligence” from the very regimes from which people are fleeing?

A number of asylum seekers are continuing a hunger strike into a second day at the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia’s north.

The Immigration Department says about 150 refugees started a peaceful protest yesterday afternoon but it cannot confirm how many are refusing to eat.

Around 60 refugee supporters, including a bus of 50 activists from Perth, have travelled from across Australia to visit the centre.

The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says the single men have the same concerns as the detainees who rioted at Villawood during the week.

“There are seriously damaged people inside the Curtin Detention Centre, people who have been waiting 15 months even to get a first answer,” he said.

“Plenty of people that we saw in the last few days have been waiting 20 months for their security clearances…there are a lot of very angry and upset people.”

I am receiving reports from activists on the ground near Curtin. The following is written by Gerry Georgatos of the Refugees Rights Action Network:

60 human rights advocates and social justice activists made up of doctors, lawyers, mental health workers, nurses, teachers, social workers, tradespeople, academics, students and others, from various social justice organisations and campaign groups, and others not affiliated to anyone, have arrived this day, Easter Saturday, April 23rd, to Curtin Detention Centre.

We journeyed under the banner of the Refugees Rights Action Network from Perth in a hired bus and with a support vehicle with a trailer of food and camping equipment. The bus was driven by three of the advocates who recently acquired the licence, at their own cost, so as to ensure this journey. We left on Thursday, 7pm from East Perth, with fifty on board the bus and after 24 hours of driving camped at Eightly Mile Beach, arriving near midnight on Easter Friday.
We arrived at Curtin Detention Centre at 3pm on the Saturday. During the last month forty of us had submitted to the Serco managed Curtin Detention Centre therebouts 100 visitor applications. We have been in contact with hundreds of our Asylum Seekers for many months. They are despairing, many are at the brink of mental and physical despair. Their maltreatment in these illegal facilities which incarcerate them have reached a critical mass of rising self harm, depression, acute and chronic trauma, suicide and multiple suicide attempts, and suicide. There have been six Detention Centre deaths (in custody) during the last eight months and undisclosed numerous suicide attempts. Reports to us clearly describe self harm and suicide attempts as a daily occurrence.
Curtin Detention Centre today is on the brink of a pending crisis brought on as per usual by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Serco management. They are literally driving people into mental illness and literally killing people. Australian of the Year, in 2010, psychiatrist Patrick McGorrie described these Detention Centres as “mental illness factories”. Australia has 23 Detention Centres and is now building another three Detention Centres. The budget for Detention and processing blows out every year, and is now up to 1.5 billion dollars per annum. How better could we spend this?
Our bus travelled down the beginning of the seven kilometre road leading to the Curtin Detention Centre where we were met by a gated blockade. Behind this gate stood Serco guards, federal police and an Australian Defence Force official. We were instructed that visits may not be possible, then we were told that some visits would be scheduled. We were then told that eight visits would be allowed and that we had to wait. We were lectured by the ADF and the AFP that we would be arrested if we proceeded unauthorised through the gates.
As the afternoon wore on it became evident visits would not be enabled and that we were being lied to. We soon learned from an Asylum Seeker who we made contact with by phone that the detainees had been told by Serco management that we were ‘not coming’. They did not believe this and despaired. Some fifty of the advocates civilly approached the fence and we spoke with the Serco frontline employees. Conflicting explanations and depictions were deployed on behalf of Serco management.
I phoned the Centre manager on his mobile from outside the gate however on this occasion someone else answered. I asked that Michael Puglisi, the Serco employed Centre manager, come to the fence to discuss the situation rather than exploit his personnel whose job it was not to defend Serco management decisions. Prosocially I argued this case with the Serco staff at the gates who most appeared to be in a drone like state bar one individual who expressed his ethos of care for the detainees and who appeared to well with tears.
Eventually Michael Puglisi, Curtin Detention Centre manager drove to the fence to meet us, however remained on the other side of the barricade, and did not unlock the gate. Throughout the discussions with many of us he often contradicted himself and clearly demonstrated an agenda to inhibit the visits. At times Serco officers had explained to us that they had not received our visitor application forms, however Michael could not speak in this light as I had scanned and emailed forms to him and had spoken to him over the phone and had his acknowledgment of the forms in writing. However he disgraced himself by declaring that it was not possible for any visits to occur on the Saturday. This outrage incurred the frustration and disappointment of the civil advocates. Unperturbed Michael used a number of excuses, that appeared concocted, to describe why this could not happen, this including that new constructions were underway and one on one meeting rooms were not available and that evening visits were not possible because of the onset of poor lighting issues. However these were disproved as we learned visits by others who they did not know knew us and were part of us, however they had joined us from the eastern states, arriving earlier, were occurring and continued into the evening.
I explained to Michael that they were only exacerbating tensions in the Detention Centre and that these lies would backfire however at the price of human life. Ultimately he insisted that some visits would be scheduled for Sunday and Monday however he would make us aware of them on the Sunday morning and not before.
I asked Michael if he had been instructed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to inhibit our right to visit our Asylum Seekers and therefore their right to be met by us. His body language indicated this was the case however he remained silent on the question insisting that he would organise some visits. He then changed his language to as many visits as possible. I asked him if it was true that Serco management, of which he is the Manager, told the detainees that we were ‘not coming’. He seemed startled by this revelation however he firmly denied any knowledge of this. However we have it evidently that this is the case.
The detainees urged Serco officers and management for the visits to be upheld. They even organised today (Saturday) for a petition for them to proceed signed by 700 Asylum Seekers trapped, incarcerated in the Curtin Detention Centre. There are now 300 Asylum Seekers protesting at Serco’s and DIAC’s actions with a Hunger Strike. Serco’s and DIAC’s deliberate mismanagement has created an unwarranted and unnecessary situation and has directly led to a Hunger Strike and the potential for protests.
Some of 50 of us have camped nearby, and will arrive at Curtin Detention first thing in the morning, 7am for the visits. The visits must occur so we can continue to shine the light on the plight of those wrongly, immorally and cruelly incarcerated in these concentration like camps. The world must know what we witnessed and endured today and what our Asylum Seekers are enduring in these facilities, which are wrapped in cultures of secrecy and silence. You had to be here to see it to believe it. We do not know what Easter Sunday holds however we hope that a significant number of visits eventuate. We will not go away, and we will come again and again.
We have arrived at Curtin Detention, a place that wrongfully incarcerates 1500 souls, armed only with 1500 Easter eggs, bi-lingual dictionaries, books and gifts. We have been treated by Serco, DIAC, the AFP and ADF with a disregard for humanity. Their conduct is a threat to a civil and just society.
Australians are a caring people and we need to unveil our racial layers, end our racism, refuse to be hostile to those seeking Asylum and allow the caring that is in Australians to not be hindered by ignorances, prejudices, biases and other evil. We are better than this.
Our journey of 2,500 kilometres pales to a mere raindrop when compared to the Homeric Odyssies of our Asylum Seekers.
2 comments ↪
  • Marilyn

    The AFP seem to have lost the plot and are treating asylum seekers as if they are criminals.

    Their collaboration with mass murderers should see them in theICC for crimes against humanity.

  • The Australian government’s refugee policy has failed.

    It is inhumane to let people into the country only to keep them in cages.

    The government should either stop the refugees from coming or let them come and live in the community.

    There is no middle road.

    I am for refugees coming to live in the community.