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.

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.

What have we wrought in Haiti?

Nations prone to natural and man-made disasters receive far too little media coverage or scrutiny. Haiti is such a place. I visited there last year and it features heavily in my upcoming book, Profits of Doom. This great review by Pooja Bhatia, in the London Review of Books, covers similar issues, namely the lack of accountability for NGOs:

In January 2010, Jonathan Katz was working in Haiti for the Associated Press, the only American news organisation with a permanent bureau there. Other foreign journalists lived there, and a few more flew in for elections and catastrophes, but for the most part Haiti coverage had become a casualty of slashed budgets at dying newspapers and magazines. Covering a small, destitute island no longer made economic sense. It was a tough gig for a freelancer, owing to the high cost of living and the necessity of speaking Creole, or hiring a translator. I managed on a fellowship, and over the years Katz and I became friends.

So when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed the capital, turned a million out their homes and killed countless others – estimates range from the high five figures to 316,000 – Haiti, though it’s only seven hundred miles off the coast of Florida, was a journalistic backwater. Many of the reporters who parachuted in for the aftermath were disaster pros, or lords of the warzone, but also Hispaniola neophytes. The stories that appeared on television and in newspapers were dystopian and hysterical: black people crawling out of piles of crumbled concrete carrying juice and toilet paper became ‘looters’; and sexual violence in the tent camps became an ‘epidemic of rape’. Once the corpses had gone, questions of aid and reconstruction weren’t enough to keep most parachutists around: their bosses weren’t interested.

Without much prior knowledge of Haiti, foreign reporters tended to rely on foreign sources, many of whom had just arrived in the country themselves: US generals, UN spokesmen, Sean Penn. President René Préval had more or less retreated, in shock and sorrow and, I imagine, disgust. With just a week in the country – two if they were lucky – reporters tended to take international agencies and organisations at their word, instead of realising that part of the press’s job was to keep them accountable.

Katz was an exception. The Big Truck That Went By chronicles the year that followed the quake, when nothing got better and a great many things got worse. (The joke among the reporters who stuck around that year went something like: ‘Earthquake, floods, cholera, riots – what’s next, locusts?’) Everyone’s nerves frayed. Katz recounts being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, but his subject is the incompetence, wastefulness and hypocrisy of rich-country policies towards Haiti. The sins of foreign powers are legion in Haiti, and The Big Truck That Went By is supremely valuable for collecting the chatter, statistics and anecdotes into a damning dossier: ‘Having sought above all to prevent riots, ensure stability and prevent disease, the responders helped spark the first, undermine the second and by all evidence caused the third.’

It began with hubris and extravagant promises. Within days of the disaster, powerful people around the world were speaking of ‘Marshall Plans’, ‘building back better’ and a ‘new Haiti’. At a donor conference in March 2010, two and a half months after the quake, rich countries announced pledges of $8.4 billion for Haiti’s reconstruction, a sum bigger than its annual GDP, and spoke of changing the way aid was done. Haiti was already known as the ‘Republic of NGOs’, and its reliance on them was strangling the country. As foreign aid groups delivered basic services – including water, medical care and electricity – the state’s capacity to do so weakened. Ordinary Haitians had little or no say in what went on. The donor conference proposed a solution: a commission of Haitians and outsiders would determine spending priorities. It would be co-chaired by a real grandee: Bill Clinton, who the year before had been appointed UN special envoy to Haiti. ‘He had a particular fondness for places he mucked up as president,’ Katz writes.

Amid the flashbulbs and self-congratulation at the conference, Katz noticed other portents. The Haitian government’s plan for reconstruction read as if it had been ghostwritten by the donors. It emphasised private enterprise, paid scant attention to housing for the 1.5 million people displaced by the quake, and was in general so vague that ‘it seemed donors would be forgiven for doing whatever they wanted.’ Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, warned donors to hold themselves accountable (what institution holds itself accountable?) and to work with the Haitian government rather than around it. The day before she spoke, her own deputy had predicted correctly that Congress was unlikely to route aid through the Haitian government. Results from a survey that canvassed 1750 Haitians on the reconstruction – ‘the only views of regular Haitians heard that day’ – were nearly excluded from the proceedings. Haitians’ ‘desire to be consulted in setting priorities, selecting projects and assessing tangible and measurable outcomes’ was mostly ignored. Préval was at one point lectured on accountability by a 32-year-old Norwegian emissary and then forgotten, it seemed, when discussion at the press conference that followed veered to Iran. ‘Do I need to develop a nuclear programme so that we come back to talking about Haiti?’ he asked.

Of the $2.43 billion in aid disbursed in 2010, 6 per cent couldn’t be accounted for. One per cent, $24 million, went to the Haitian government. The rest went to agencies and organisations based in donor countries and to the United Nations. Nearly half a billion went to the US Department of Defense, which spent a million dollars a day maintaining a nuclear supercarrier in the bay of Port-au-Prince; $3.6 million of it was spent on repairs to navy helicopters and the rest on many assorted, bizarre sundries: $194,000 for audiovisual equipment from a store in Manhattan, $18,000 on a jungle gym that cost less than $6000 online and thousands on kitchen implements. ‘What earthquake fallout prompted the Coast Guard to buy a $4462 deep-fat fryer – years of Haitian income – in early 2011?’ Katz wonders. A spokesman did not provide answers.