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.

The Net Delusion is alive and well

My following book review appeared in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Evgeny Morozov
Allen Lane,
408pp, $29.95

As people in the Middle East have been protesting in the streets against Western-backed dictators and using social media to connect and circumvent state repression, it would be easy to dismiss The Net Delusion as almost irrelevant.

Born in Belarus, Evgeny Morozov collects mountains of evidence to claim the internet isn’t able to bring freedom, democracy and liberalism.

Sceptics would tell him to watch Al-Jazeera and see the power of the Facebook generation in action.

In fact, it is a dangerous fantasy to believe, he argues, because countless regimes are using the same tools as activists – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and email – to monitor and catch dissidents.

He writes that “the only space where the West (especially the United States) is still unabashedly eager to promote democracy is in cyberspace. The Freedom Agenda is out; the Twitter Agenda is in.”

Morozov condemns “cyber-utopians” for wanting to build a world where borders are no more. Instead, he says these well-meaning people “did not predict how useful it would prove for propaganda purposes, how masterfully dictators would learn to use it for surveillance” and the increasingly sophisticated methods of web censorship.

Furthermore, Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Nokia and web security firms have all willingly colluded with a range of brutal states to turn a profit.

The Western media are largely to blame for creating the illusion of web-inspired democracy. During the Iranian uprisings in June 2009, many journalists dubbed it the Twitter Revolution, closely following countless tweets from the streets of Tehran. However, it was soon discovered that many of the tweets originated in California and not the Islamic republic. The myth had already been born.

None of these facts is designed to lessen the bravery of demonstrators against autocracies – and Morozov praises countless dissidents in China, the Arab world and beyond – but lazy journalists seemingly crave easy and often inaccurate narratives of nimble young keyboard warriors against sluggish old men in golden palaces.

The New York Times’s Roger Cohen was right when he wrote in January that “the internet’s impact has been to expose the great delusion that has led Western governments to buttress Arab autocrats; that the only alternative to them was Islamic jihadists”.

But most protesters in the streets of Egypt had no access to the internet or any use for it and the main gripes were economic rather than ideological. However, it is undeniable that many of the young organised through online networks and clearly surprised the former Mubarak regime with their ability to harness a mainstream call for change.

Morozov, hailing from a country that knows about disappearances and suppression, urges the West to “stop glorifying those living in authoritarian governments”.

One of the Western fallacies of web usage in non-democratic nations is the belief that people are all looking for political content as a way to cope with repression. In fact, as Morozov proves with research, an experiment in 2007 with strangers in autocratic regimes found that instead of looking for dissenting material they “searched for nude pictures of Gwen Stefani and photos of a panty-less Britney Spears”.

I noted similar trends in China when researching my book The Blogging Revolution and found most Chinese youth were interested in downloading movies and music and meeting boys and girls. Politics was the furthest thing from their minds.

This would change only if economic conditions worsened. A wise government would pre-empt these problems by allowing citizens to let off steam; Beijing has undoubtedly opened up online debate in the past decade, though there are certainly set boundaries and red lines not to cross.

Morozov sometimes underestimates the importance of people in repressive states feeling less alone and mixing with like-minded individuals. Witness the persecuted gay community in Iran, the websites connecting this beleaguered population and the space to discuss an identity denied by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ultimately, The Net Delusion is necessary because it challenges comfortable Western thinking about the modern nature of authoritarianism.

This year we have already been left to ponder the irony of the US State Department deploying its resources to pressure Arab regimes not to block communications and social media while the stated agenda of Washington is a matrix of control across the region.

These policies are clearly contradictory and a person in US-backed Saudi Arabia and Bahrain won’t be fooled into believing Western benevolence if they can merely use Twitter every day.

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