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 Left and 9/11

Two views, one from here in Australia and the other on the global scene.

From my perspective, the last decade has brought both remarkable levels of carnage by both Western actions and Islamists but also a growing awareness of where the real threats reside, and it isn’t from some men in a cave in Afghanistan or safe house in Pakistan.

Left Flank:

…In the shadow of the twin towers are other legacies: those of endless war waged by the West and the dramatic rise of Islamophobia globally. It is these consequences that confront us today. And the Left’s inability, in particular in Australia and the US, to mount a serious ongoing challenge to them remains a serious failing.

It is for these reasons — the real human cost located in endless war and islamophobia, wreaked in the memory of those killed on 9/11 — progressive voices must return to bolder times.
One of my proudest moments as a Greens member was seeing Kerry Nettle fight her way through security and parliamentary members in order to deliver a letter from Mamdouh Habib’s wife to US President George Bush on his visit to Parliament in Canberra. The response from those in the vicinity, to block and manhandle Nettle, belies the relatively conservative nature of her action. While clearly Nettle knew approaching Bush would not be seen as ‘appropriate’, who could have imagined that others would feel their political views gave them the right to physically restrain a Senator just because she disagreed with them.
But gone are the days when Nettle’s office was an organising centre of the campaign against the Iraq War in Sydney, or senators recruited their staff for the activist credentials rather than ability to impact political spin in the mainstream and on social media.
Increasingly Brown and the Greens have equivocated on political issues that are seen as too Left wing. A strategy of minimising criticism of the party in the mainstream media, in order to possibly increase the national Greens vote, is the order of the day. This is despite the personal commitment of most party members and elected Greens parliamentarians to various questions — such as the decriminalisation of drug use and its treatment as a health issue, decreasing the funding form the public pursue to the elite wealthy private schools, or most recently on the question of justice for Palestinians. 
As success has come in the polls, and the number of representatives has increased in Parliament, the activist and progressive voice of the Greens has been diminished. So in recent weeks we have seen growing argument that the Greens should condemn the protests at Max Brenner chocolate shops, actions conducted by one part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Australia.
Some inside the party have claimed that the demonstrations were ‘violent’ (even though the footage on Youtube show police attacking protesters rather than the other way around) and that the large number of arrests at the first demonstration might reflect badly on the Greens. Yet the Greens have always been centrally involved in environmental campaigns such as those against the logging of old growth forests and the damming of the Franklin, which have by their nature resulted in very many arrests of activists. By this logic, it is fine — even a badge of honour — to be associated with Bob Brown as he was arrested in Tasmania’s wilderness, but we should condemn those campaigning around the BDS and attempting to end the brutal occupation and repression of 2.3 million Palestinian Arabs living the West Bank or the 1.6 million living in Gaza.
This has reached near-farcical proportions with the decision by recently elected NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham to go to the Fairfax media to run a public campaign against the state party’s pro-BDS position. In an attempt to appear even-handed on the Israel-Palestine conflict (as if the balance of forces in the Middle East was ever even) he has joined the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Israel’ group, as well as a pro-Palestinian caucus. This is akin to joining a ‘Parliamentary Friends of South Africa’ group at the height of Apartheid.
Increasingly for some Greens, the priority is a squeaky clean image that plays well in the conservative mainstream media, rather than prosecuting established party policy or making the less popular argument on a crucial questions of human dignity. It is not enough to bleat words about human rights, if in the next breath you condemn those who are actively seeking and end to the Palestinian occupation. It may not be that the Greens as a whole want to be involved in organising the Max Brenner protests, although some members and MPs will, but to seek to alter the NSW party policy of supporting the BDS for ends related solely to political image is unconscionable.
More importantly, such political manoeuvres do not exist in a social vacuum. They have real impact on real people. Not only are the horrific conditions endured by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories being trivialised by those conservatives in the Greens unwilling to take a principled stand against Israel’s actions, the Australian debate over the BDS has unleashed a disturbing strain of hard Right and racist sentiment. Among all the confected slanders of ‘anti-semitism’ against BDS campaigners from the mainstream, there has been no similar condemnation of the far Right, Islamophobic organisations that have joined the defence of the chocolate shops. Groups like the Australian Defence League and the Australian Protectionist Party have linked their hatred of Muslims and Arabs with Israel’s role as regional spearhead in the West’s war against Islamism. Despite the horrific consequences of the far Right’s ideology being expressed in the Norwegian massacre in late July, there is growing activity among like-minded Islamophobes here. One would’ve thought that Greens like Brown and Buckingham would be more concerned about these developments. Instead their quest for mainstream acceptance seems to be blinding them to the malign state of pro-Israel politics in this country.
Ten years on from 9/11 one wonders if the Greens are developing selective amnesia about the realities of the War on Terror and its Islamophobic ideological veneer.

In a September 2001 essay titled “Game Over: The End of Warfare as Play,” Klein noted that the United States had fought a series of wars in which it had experienced few casualties. “This is a country that has come to believe in the ultimate oxymoron: a safe war,” she wrote. The attacks of 9/11 would change that, she believed. “The illusion of war without casualties has been forever shattered.” Today, she’s not so sure.

I suppose it was wishful thinking. As I watched footage of New Yorkers fleeing from the attacks, their terrified faces covered in dust from the collapsing towers, I was overwhelmed by how different these images were from the people-free videogame wars that my friends and I had grown up watching on CNN. Now that we were finally getting an unsanitized look at what it meant to be attacked from the air, I was sure it would change our hearts forever. But the Bush Administration was determined to tightly police what we saw of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, introducing “embedded” reporting, and banning photographs of returning caskets. They also let it be known that reporters who embedded themselves with local populations instead of with allied troops were acceptable military targets — as attacks on Al Jazeera reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq made clear.

The wars being waged by our governments in our names are today more distant to us than ever before. . Some of the fighting is carried out by mercenaries, who die without so much as a mention in the papers. And drone attacks have ushered in something even more dangerous than the “safe war” — the idea of “no touch” warfare. This sends a clear message to the civilians on the other side of our weapons that we consider our lives so much more valuable than theirs that we will no longer even bother showing up to kill them in person.

As we should have learned ten years ago, this is an extraordinarily dangerous message to send.

no comments – be the first ↪