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.

Fightback against privatisation grows

One (via the Guardian):

The first private company to take over an NHS hospital has admitted in a document seen by the Observer that patient care could suffer under its plans to expand its empire and seek profit from the health service.

Circle Health is already feeling a strain on resources due to its aggressive business strategy, the document reveals, and the firm’s ambition to further expand into the NHS “could affect its ability to provide a consistent level of service to its patients”, it says.

The company, run by a former Goldman Sachs banker, was awarded management of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire last week in a ground-reaking move lauded by ministers as a “good deal for patients and staff”.

However, the government was forced to answer an urgent question in the Commons after the move sparked furious accusations that the deal was privatising the NHS and putting jobs and health services in jeopardy. Concerns over the future of the health service were further heightened when David Cameron, in a speech on regulation and the economy, said he wanted the NHS to be a “fantastic business for Britain”.

The revelation that the company shares some of the fears of its critics has caused fresh uproar.

The head of health at the public sector union Unison, Christina McAnea, said it was an admission of the danger of bringing profit-seeking organisations into the health service. She said: “What they are saying, in black and white, is what we have been saying all along: that introducing profit into the NHS risks putting patient services under strain. This is a very real fear for patients at Hinchingbrooke hospital.

“If the company is allowed to expand into the NHS as the government brings in its reforms through the Health and Social Care Bill this, it appears, could put many more patients at risk.”

Two (via the Guardian):

The privatisation of public services has been branded a scandal by unions who say that leaked tender documents reveal that the opening-up of the prison system to competition is “heavily biased” in favour of private firms.

The Ministry of Justice has introduced competitive tendering for five jails as ministers seek to expand the role of the private sector. They claim that competition will result in more efficient services and a better deal for the taxpayer, but unions fear that it will result in widespread redundancies, poorer working conditions and reduced pensions for workers.

Prison governors warn that expanding the private sector’s role in the custodial system will create a profit-maximising culture that favours incarceration and cutbacks to rehabilitation.

Internal documents seen by the Observer show that the in-house public sector teams seeking to run the first five prisons subjected to the new competition process were forced to increase the total cost of their bids by more than 21%. An earlier document, in 2009, forced an increase of only 13%.

Unions claim the substantial “add-ons” rendered the public sector bids uncompetitive compared with those put forward by their private sector rivals. The Principles Of Competition document, updated in August 2010, applies to Birmingham, Buckley Hall, Doncaster, Featherstone II and Wellingborough prisons.

The document’s terms have prompted claims that Tory ministers are seeking to outsource the entire prison system to the private sector. Currently in the UK, there are 13 private prisons holding 15% of the incarcerated population.

Prison privatisation is no longer based on efficiency, it’s now ideological,” said Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation union, Napo. “It’s extraordinary that the public sector is forced to take into account huge additional costs. It puts public prisons at a total disadvantage. If this continues, there will be no state-run prisons in five years.”

one comment ↪
  • In the not too distant future somewhere in the western world, a small/unknown political party will win an election based solely on a promise to re-nationalise all privatised (former state-owned) assets and services.

    Within a decade after such a cataclysmic event, every surviving western country not under military rule, will likely follow suit.