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.

Evidence from the horse’s mouth; Australian immigration loves to punish most vulnerable

Late last year I visited Christmas Island and Curtin detention centre in the Kimberley to investigate the role of British multinational Serco in controlling and managing asylum seekers. The picture was grim; isolation and long spells inside maximum security prisons are how we treat refugees fleeing persecution.

This front page today in today’s Australian newspaper confirms that both Canberra and Serco are simply incapable of humanely handling the relatively small numbers of people arriving here on our shores. Punishment is all they know:

The Immigration Department and its contractor, Serco, are stepping up a system of reward, incentive and punishment as they seek ways to manage a fractious detainee population that has grown by more than 2300 since the collapse of Julia Gillard’s Malaysia Solution in August.

Detainees deemed low-risk are being allowed to leave the scorching heat of Curtin in Western Australia’s far north for the low-security and temperate detention centre near Hobart, while “troublesome” asylum-seekers on the mainland are increasingly being flown to Christmas Island to be locked down in cells and isolated from other detainees.

Remodelling at the Christmas Island’s main detention centre is increasing the number of high-security cells from seven to more than 50. The Immigration Department is converting twin accommodation blocks, known as White 1 and 2, into a fully caged compound for detainees charged with offences or considered violent or likely to harm themselves.

The block has a capacity of 236 but The Australian has been told it will hold far fewer in its role as a behaviour management unit. The centre’s Red Block remains the most punitive of any compound in the immigration detention network, with seven cells monitored 24-hours a day by closed circuit TV.

Last night, an Immigration Department spokeswoman acknowledged the changes at Christmas Island were intended to manage poor behaviour.

“The immigration detention network needs to provide a range of accommodation options for detainee clients, from very secure to a more relaxed and open-planned environment,” the spokeswoman said.

“Some of the accommodation at Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre has been changed to provide a more secure and supportive environment for detainee clients whose behaviour has deteriorated to such a point where it threatens the safety of others and themselves.”

The detainee population at Curtin, the nation’s largest detention centre, has been scaled back by more than 200 to less than 1000 amid concerns that extreme heat and crowding could increase the chances of a repeat of the hunger strikes and protests of early last year.

Serco, the company managing Australia’s immigration detention centres, has introduced community activities and volunteer work for detainees to try to keep Curtin calm.

Low-risk detainees are now regularly taken on excursions to the town of Derby, 50km from the centre. Since June, they have played cricket against Derby residents at the town’s sports oval, put on an art exhibition at a local cafe, landscaped the town’s retirement village and taught sewing to Aborigines at the local women’s centre. A soccer/cricket pitch for detainees is almost complete at Curtin.

Derby has experienced highs of up to 42.8C in the past fortnight, while Hobart’s temperature has peaked at 25.5C.

Curtin detainee Amir Rafiee told The Australian excursions and games did nothing to ease his angst after 11 months in detention.

“We are not children in here, you know someone you just give candy and make us quiet and happy,” he said.

“When you are locked up with no answers, your problems do not go away when you get taken on a bus ride or to the swimming pool.”

The introduction of bridging visas in November gave many detainees hope they would be allowed to live in the community while their claims were being assessed, Mr Rafiee said. But instead there was stress for those left behind each time someone left the centre on a bridging visa.

So far, 107 people have been let out of detention on bridging visas, many from Curtin.

4 comments ↪
  • Victoria

    Deep deep concern for an increase in the use of "punishment" and solitary confinement in so called "management cells" for those at risk of self harm.

    It is well established that harsh treatment and isolation cells make suicide risk increase and cause further degeneration of mental state. The use of such punishment cells for mentally ill asylum seekers has already been condemned by human rights commission and refugee advocacy groups. Such abuse will only serve to speed up and ultimately destroy the fragile mental state of those we have an obligation to protect.

  • Victoria

    Deep deep concern for an increase in the use of "punishment" and solitary confinement in so called "management cells" for those at risk of self harm.

  • Marilyn

    Article 31 of the refugee convention forbids punishment of any kind, the prisons are one punishment then the nazis go and do it again and punish those who are not angelic in their illegal punishments.

    And still we have the Australian letting whiney old men like Colebatch and Neil james write babbling nonsense that is frankly wrong and racist.

  • Marilyn

    We could lock up all the whiney old white men bloviators on Christmas Island at the mercy of SERCO.