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.

Ignore the world’s warming and pay a heavy price

My following book review appears in today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

An investigative journalist finds altered weather patterns are already having a significant impact.

We are constantly bombarded with evidence of apocalyptic climate change – uncontrollable weather patterns that will irreversibly destroy sustainable life on planet Earth. Deniers argue such warnings are exaggerated.

The Republican US presidential candidate, Rick Perry, recently said scientists were manipulating data ”so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects”.

News Limited’s Andrew Bolt, writing from his office in Melbourne, equally claims that a religious-type fundamentalism exists around global warming and we should simply remain relaxed and comfortable about occasional changes in climate.

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, by a leading American investigative journalist, Christian Parenti, visits many nations around the world and documents hard evidence of deepening social, economic and political unrest due to reduced amounts of rainwater.

Parenti defines the Tropic of Chaos as a ”belt of economically and politically battered post-colonial states girding the planet’s mid latitudes … The societies in this band are heavily dependent on agriculture and fishing, thus very vulnerable to shifts in weather patterns”.

Add to the toxic mix decades of Western-imposed neo-liberal policies dressed up as ”economic restructuring” and ”we find clustered [in these areas] most of the failed and semi-failed states of the developing world”.

A 2008 Swedish government study concluded 46 countries and 2.7 billion people were susceptible to these ”perfect storm” conditions.

We are thus far largely insulated in the West from these profound shifts but this illusion of calm won’t last long; the Pentagon is already planning for immigration pressures, conflict in Africa surrounding food security and humanitarian emergencies. In classic disaster-capitalism style, private companies are joining in a ”matrix of parasitic interests” to both fuel and arm the wars being fought while investing in methods to monitor, imprison and document the stated problems and people. Parenti correctly calls this ”militarised management of civilisation’s violent disintegration”.

Take Pakistan. Following the devastating floods both last year and more recently as well as a combination of an Islamist insurgency, a crime wave and religious intolerance have fused with climate-change disaster. As Parenti recently told the radio program Democracy Now! after returning from the nuclear-armed nation: ”I was surprised to see a lot of people who had been displaced by the floods were refusing to leave the refugee camps that they were in now, because they didn’t want to go to landlords … These peasants would say, ‘We’d rather stay in these aid camps’, even as they cut off aid. They were protesting for the right to stay. The cops would attack them because they didn’t want to go back to the countryside, where they would fall into debt to these landlords who have private prisons and treat them really as, you know, bonded servants. And this is an example of how climate change … exacerbates pre-existing problems.”

Climate change turbocharges issues that already exist in under-privileged states and creates new ones that poor governments have few resources to tackle.

Parenti concludes by wondering, as Marx and Engels would surely do today, if ”capitalism may be ultimately incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world”. But the anaemic debate in most of the West, such as whether to implement a largely symbolic carbon tax with little likelihood of reducing emissions to the necessary level, is revealed as insufficient.

Transforming the energy economy and challenging anthropogenic climate change is achievable, Parenti hopes, as long as Western governments alter their living habits. For example, the US government is the country’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter and could make shifts to more efficient services, vehicles and energy with little cost difference.

Activists have a responsibility not to use extreme language – comparing climate-change denial to Holocaust denial is inarguably unhelpful – but equally a responsibility, as Parenti does brilliantly, to reveal the realities of our broken planet and ways to fix it.

TROPIC OF CHAOS

Christian Parenti

Nation, 304pp, $29.95

no comments – be the first ↪