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.

Some question and answers about responsibility of writers

Following my essay in the latest edition of literary journal Overland on cultural boycotts, politics, Palestine and Sri Lanka, the magazine interviewed me on various matters:

Passionate and outspoken about Israel/Palestine, among other things, Antony Loewenstein is a freelance independent journalist based in Sydney. Author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution, he is a denizen of the Twittersphere. Antony speaks regularly at literary festivals around the world and his essay ‘Boycotts and Literary Festivals’ is published in the 203 edition of Overland.

What was your pathway to becoming a speaker at literary festivals?

I wrote a book and many festivals in Australia invited me. It was My Israel Question, first published in 2006, and told the story of a dissident Jew challenging Zionist power in the West and the realities of occupation for Palestinians. Many Jews hated it, smeared me and tried to shut down the debate. It was typical Zionist behaviour. Thankfully, they failed miserably, despite continuing to try, and even today literary festival directors tell me that the Zionist lobby still tries to pressure them to not invite me to speak on the Middle East, or anything really. This is what Zionism has done to my people, convince them that victimhood is a natural state of affairs and that honest discussion about Israel/Palestine is too threatening to be heard by non-Jews.

The audiences at my literary festival events, since the beginning, have been largely supportive of my stance – though I don’t just speak about Israel/Palestine, also Wikileaks, freedom of speech, web censorship and disaster capitalism – and curiously the strongest Zionist supporters of Israel rarely raise their voices at literary festivals. Instead, they’ll later go into print arguing that festivals were biased against Israel (as happened recently by the Zionist lobby in Australia, condemning my supposedly extremist views on Israel during the Sydney Writer’s Festival). As I say, victimhood comes so naturally to some Jews.

I often have mixed feelings about attending writers’ festivals. I rarely reject an invitation – and have been lucky to speak at events in Australia, India and Indonesia – but it’s often a cozy club that shuns controversy. I like to provoke, not merely for the sake of it, but I know the middle-class audience will not generally hear such thoughts in events about ‘the art of the novel’ or ‘where is the US in 2011?’ I guess if I wrote about knitting or frogs, it may be harder to stir debates.

What is the purpose of a literary festival?

It should be to entertain, challenge and dissect contemporary life. As books sell less in our societies, attendance at literary festivals has increased. People crave intelligent discussion. They generally aren’t receiving that in the corporate media. To see massive audiences in Sydney, Ubud or Jaipur sitting or standing to hear robust debates on the ways of the world can only be a good thing. But there is an important caveat. Do these events too often provide comfort for the listener, a warm glow about themselves and their existence and all-too-rarely tackle the real effects of, say, government policies or the civilian murders in our various wars in the Muslim world?

I argue for a far more politicised literary scene, where intellectuals aren’t so keen to be loved and embraced by an audience but the art of discomfort is raised as an art form. This is why I argue for boycotts in my Overland piece, relating to Palestine and Sri Lanka. Surely our responsibility as artists is not to kow-tow to the powerful but challenge them? And surely our duty is to make people think about the role of non-violent resistance to situations in which we in the West have a role? Literary festivals are a unique opportunity to capture a large audience and throw around some ideas, thoughts which may percolate. If a reader can digest this, still buy a book and ponder something they hadn’t pondered before, my job here is done.

Writer discomfort, to being feted at literary festivals, is my natural state of being. I welcome it.

As a writer, what inspires you?

Passion, direct action, living life in a way that doesn’t ignore the hypocrisy of our realities, lived experiences, detailed journalism, inspiring tales of heroism (that don’t involve women giving up everything and living in Italy for a few months) and voices that struggle to be heard. I’ve always seen my job as a writer as to highlight and brighten the silenced voices in our society. It may be a Tamil or Palestinian, somebody living under occupation or the worker of a multinational who gets shafted for simply doing her job. This may sound pompous or self-important but frankly most journalists say they believe these things but then spend most of their lives dying to be insulated within the power structures of society.

The recent debate in Sydney over Marrickville council embracing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) over Israel was a rare example of government seeing injustice and trying to do something about it. The faux controversy concocted by the Murdoch press, Zionist lobby and Jewish establishment proved just how toxic the occupation of Palestinian lands has become. As a writer, I savoured the few brave individuals who stood up in the face of overwhelming bullying and spoke eloquently for Palestinian rights and real peace with justice in the Middle East. This position is not something that will be taught on a Zionist lobby trip to Israel (something undertaken by most politicians in Australia and many journalists) but real investigation. There are times, though, when I nearly despair, such as my recent visit to New York and attendance at the Celebrate Israel parade.

I think anger is an under-valued attribute in a good writer.

Where are you now, with your writing practice?

I know far more today than when I started my professional career in 2003. In some ways my anger is far more targeted and my writing has improved because of it. I’m pleased that both my current books, My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution, are currently being updated and translated in various countries around the world. I’m working on a book about the modern Left and another about disaster capitalism in Australia and the world. And that’s just for starters. I’m rather busy. I constantly struggle with the sheer volume of information that exists out there. The internet is a blessing and a curse. Taking time away from this device would be just lovely but I’m not too sure how to do it. Feeling connected as a writer is one of the most pleasing aspects of my job. From a schoolgirl who uses my work in her classes to an Iranian dissident who reaches out to raise the brutal nature of the Ahmadinejad regime.

Our society is infected with writers who seem to see their role as robots, spokespeople for a predictable cause, afraid to offend or provoke. Being on the road as a writer is a humbling experience, hearing people’s stories, but it can also be lonely. Being challenged on my positions, as I often am over an issue like Palestine, can (usually) only make my work better. The ignorance and cowardly behaviour of our media and political elites over such questions – Wikileaks, Palestine or refugee policies – is indicative of a wider societal malaise and sometimes I’m not surprised that I have so few friends in the media. It’s not a loss. Who wouldn’t want to breathlessly report on the latest press release by the Gillard government? Sigh.

If anything, I hope my Overland piece stimulates thought over the far-too-comfortable and insulated work of the literary and arts scenes in the West. Self-congratulatory back-slaps may feel good at the time but history ain’t being written by time-keepers.

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