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.

Getting #LeftTurn debate going over gay marriage and equality

A book I co-edited with Jeff Sparrow, Left Turn, is about to launch.

One of the contributors, Rodney Croome, a strong advocate of gay marriage, has written a powerful piece in ABC’s The Drum about this issue:

The American civil rights movement was a colourful but hollow distraction from the far more important issue of America’s war in Vietnam, and that is why presidents Kennedy and Johnson supported it.

If you find this statement trite, offensive and wrong then you may react the same way when you read John Pilger’s analysis of Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.

Pilger believes the Obama administration is attempting to divert attention from wars abroad and wealth disparity at home, and raise more money from Hollywood, by endorsing marriage equality.

He has no evidence for these links. His analysis also doesn’t explain why Obama took so long to “evolve” on the issue and seems to have been moved to act by an unscripted endorsement of the issue by Joe Biden. 

Nor does Pilger allow for the fact that a cause can be right even if the motives of some of its supporters are less than pure, or just not the same as his.

Pilger would probably respond by saying my comparison between black civil rights and same-sex marriage is unfair because, in his words, the latter is about “lifestyle liberalism”.

Such a casual dismissal of marriage equality is not just because Pilger doesn’t believe marriage matters much. He believes marriage is part of the problem: “The rights historically associated with marriage are those of property: capitalism itself,” he writes.

“Bourgeois acceptability is not yet a human right.”

Pilger’s same-sex marriage blind spot is not uncommon among left-wingers his age. Many older lefties retain an outdated view of marriage as an instrument of male domination over women, the middle class’s domination over workers, and God’s domination over us all.

They refuse to see that the institution has been reformed, at least in the West, so that women, workers and non-believers now have much more autonomy to decide how, when and if they wed, how they conduct their marriage (including whether or not they have kids), and if and when their marriage will end.

They refuse to acknowledge that it is precisely this change which has made same-sex marriage an issue: now that marriage is a choice for the majority, it makes sense to ask why it isn’t a choice for the minority.

Why can’t John Pilger see any of this? Is it just his distaste for marriage?

In his use of the phrases like “lifestyle liberalism” and “bourgeois acceptability”, I hear echoes of the old left’s suspicion of homosexuals. To those who held this suspicion, gays were too prone to being flippant sentimentalists, fawning courtiers, and fascist closet-cases. We were too soft, too easily co-opted or just too different to be part of a movement that demanded solidarity. 

Suspicion of gays paralleled a similar, older suspicion of Jews, and it saw members of both groups being accepted within the Left only if they showed extraordinary commitment (Pilger’s WikiLeaking hero, Bradley Manning, being a case in point). 

Rodney Croome AM is the campaign director of Australian Marriage Equality and the co-author of Why v Why: gay marriage. He has contributed an essay on the Left and marriage equality to ‘Left Turn: Political Essays for the New Left’, edited by Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow (MUP), out June 1.

3 comments ↪
  • victoria

    injustice anywhere…….I really appreciated this piece when I rad it yesterday as while I usually agree with Pilger's insightful analysis I found the = marriage vs Bradley Manning juxtaposition wanting. I too felt there was a slight imputation that this fight for = marriage was a trivial issue disconnected from any other civil rights/human rights campaign.

    Although straight I am perfectly capable of standing in solidarity with = love campaigners as well as fighting for the rights of refugees, Palestinians etc.

    In Pilger's defense I do think our generation has a dismissive attitude to marriage and I suspect Pilger fails to see that the campaign for = marriage is using that civil institution as a foil to reduce discrimination in a broader sense. Only those that face this discrimination are really in a position to decide how important that marginalization is John!

  • redjos

    John Pilger's article was extremely good and put many arguments around the world into their correct perspectives.

    Gay marriage is a distraction from the problems we are confronted with in Australian politics.

    The only reason I support gay marriage is because I believe in equality and we are denied equality until all laws in Australia provide the same rights and protections to every member of society.

    But gay marriage is marriage and marriage as an institution is a failed institution whose time has been and gone.

    The numbers of heterosexual marriages which last a lifetime are fewer and further between than at any other time since the whole marriage debacle arrived on the scene some time around the 18th or 19th centuries.

    We want equality now, not in another 50 or 100 years, but as Pilger says, it really is a distraction from all the ills which our society and body politic are suffering from. War and global financial crises caused by the arms and banking institutions have caused – and continue to cause – ongoing untold misery and starvation to millions globally, and Bradley Manning and Julian Assange have done the best service to mankind possible by producing documentation illustrating the corruption our political and financial systems are guilty of and perpetrate on a daily basis.

    Gay marriage has its place in our society and we support it being legalised, but what about those gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV (GLTH)members of our society who have reached old age, having lived through some of the worst aspects of our homophobic societies, and in their old age are still discriminated against, bullied and assaulted and condemned to institutionalised homophobia if they have to be housed in aged care facilities mostly run by religious organisations, most of whom are still homophobic and treat their GLTH inmates with appalling disdain.

    The list goes on and on, but Pilger made his points and they continue to resonate in a world of indifference.

  • Harry

    I recall in California, representatives from the Black African community rightly objected to the association of homosexual rights with civil human right movement. Pilger's comment that homosexual marriage is liberalism lifestyle is correct.