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.

Afghanistan should watch out; vulture capitalists on the prowl

Although it receives little media coverage, Afghanistan has vast energy reserves. This is perfect for foreign firms to exploit a very vulnerable country. This story on ABC highlights the Australian role in this sordid activity:

Afghanistan wants more Australian help – not from the military, but from Australian mining companies – to kick-start a post-war economy with a mining boom.

“So far I have not got in touch with any of the major Australian investors – Australian companies like Rio Tinto, BHP and the others – but I’m going to Melbourne to see if there is a possibility of getting those major companies interested,” Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australia, Nasir Andisha, said.

Afghanistan, like Australia, is rich in natural resources – iron ore, copper, gold, lithium, coal, uranium, oil and gas.

So far Chinese and Indian companies have been given the frontrunning in exploiting these resources.

The last mining boom in Afghanistan was over 2,000 years ago in the era of Alexander the Great, when gold, silver and precious stones were routinely mined.

Geologists have known of the extent of the mineral wealth for over a century, as a result of surveys done by the British and Russians.

In an interesting historical footnote, an American company was offered a mining concession over the entire country in the 1930s but turned it down.

Despite this historical knowledge, global interest was only really boosted last year when the Pentagon commissioned a report from the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The report spoke of “trillions of dollars” worth of minerals and energy resources in the country.

While the US military has been focusing on its strategic security interests in Afghanistan, American companies have expressed concern about being sidelined in the bidding process for mineral and energy licences.

A Chinese state-owned company won the rights to one of the largest copper deposits, at Mes Aynak, near Kabul. And an Indian consortium recently won the rights to the enormous Hajigak iron ore deposit.

At the Bonn international conference on the future of Afghanistan this month, president Hamid Karzai told the international delegates that his government is working hard to exploit the mineral resources for “long-term growth and prosperity”.

But some Americans are questioning the way this underground wealth is being auctioned off.

“It used to break my heart sitting in Beijing, the second largest embassy in the world, looking at neighbouring Afghanistan,” former US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said during a recent candidate’s debate

Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr Huntsman said: “We have 100,000 troops there. The Chinese would move in and take the mining concession”.

one comment ↪
  • When I was a teenager and I'd encounter stories like this, I'd feel an intense ambivalence.

    Part of me felt as though proof of a conspiracy of some sort had just appeared and a tarp was going to be pulled back exposing a dark truth. The rest of me assumed I was a melodramatic teenager, and if I kept reacting like that I'd end up a cooky, conspiracy dude (rather like a character from The Lonegunmen – though this was long before I saw the show).

    For awhile after the intensity of my reactions faded, I thought I'd bottomed out. Then I realized I'd mistaken fatalism for nihilism, and even the angsty, self-righteousness that is rightful outfit of every pseudo-edgy, youthful nihilist is gone. Replaced by a sensible button down and boot cut jeans.

    The thing that bothered me most about reading this article isn't the implications for the war's "real" cause or the potential political conflict or even the fact that while it could theoretically stabilize the region, it will almost certainly end up screwing over the Afghanis.

    No. What bothered me most is that I almost closed the tab without so much as shaking my head.

    Which makes me selfish, I suppose. But, a little more honest. I hope.