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.

The Australian reviews “For God’s Sake”

The following appears in today’s Weekend Australian written by Gerard Windsor. For the record, the writer’s description of my relationship with my father is false and not reflected in the text of the book. I am extremely close to my dad, though years ago this was very different, something I explicitly explain in the book:

Religion, as a topic, has made a comeback. Not a positive one, it has to be said. Two factors have jerked religion into our ongoing consciousness: the bushfire spread of a repellent Islamism and the sexual abuse scandal of Catholicism. We’ve been careful, even selective in our reaction. Homegrown ill will has largely confined itself to targeting Christianity. After all, the Christian churches are old Australia and self-flagellation is OK – to say nothing of being an honoured Christian tradition.

In the past half-century there has been a major realignment in the terms of religious debate. Once it was all-out war between the sects. Embers of this might still twinkle occasionally: the “Catholic mafia” now supposed to exist within the NSW Hunter region police force recalls the days when popular wisdom was that the state’s force was divided equally between Catholics and Masons, each of whom took turns as commissioner.

But all sects are now in retreat and the ecumenical movement has made them see the sense of alliance against the common foe – godlessness. That challenge, best typified by Richard Dawkins’s 2006 atheist manifesto The God Delusion, is the third factor that has reinvigorated religious discussion – albeit often in the low-grade form of sniping and polemic.

So within that context we now get a strikingly courteous debate on the God question between two atheists and two believers – all Australians. For God’s Sake has an original and successful arrangement. Twelve issues are listed for individual discussion. Each contributor has a turn at going first or last, and so on. Jane Caro, the best known of the quartet, represents cheerful inherited atheism, Antony Loewenstein secular, shakily atheistic Judaism, Rachel Woodlock enthusiastic-convert Islam, and Simon Smart benevolent, earnest Protestantism. The participants start with “What is the nature of the universe?” and work their way through virtue, right and wrong, conscience, hope, religion and conflict, the challenge of science, suffering and evil, the oppression of women, and end up with “What has religion done for us anyway?”

No participant gets converted in the course of the debate, and I doubt whether any readers will either. Not in the way that I suspect some believers might have been by the blitzkrieg of The God Delusion. No one here is looking for the killer blow, and I think that’s a novelty in argument on this topic. It’s certainly far from the antagonism set up by ABC program Q & A last year when it pitted Dawkins against George Pell, and courtesy and any degree of openness were manifestly absent.

The arguments, which are all pretty well timeworn, rise and fall, and no major new philosopher or theologian is unearthed. One phenomenon stands out above all, however. The intellectual standard of today’s religious thought seems to me to be low. Smart and Woodlock are both believers and also pro-fessionally involved in the teaching of their respective creeds. Caro and Loewenstein follow careers that have nothing to do with their atheism. And the two believers are wedded to a discursive routine where their essays read as a litany of quotations sewn together by passing commentary. This is a practice that may have some validity in academic discourse where the enforced punctilios of citation and authority loom large. But definitely not in a personal essay where a writer is giving an account of their soul.

Leaping from one foothold of a quotation to another suggests a lack of personal conviction, a failure to digest and make one’s own the stuff of belief. A similar failure in self-appropriation was embarrassingly on display in the Q & A program, where Cardinal Pell was mouthing the terms and theses of his seminary training more than 50 years ago. There was no sense of a creed that had been thought through in an individual way.

If you’re going to lace your prose with other men’s and women’s dictums, you have to pick the memorable ones. Yet Smart and Woodlock introduce numerous variations of “the Yale philosopher” or “modern Turkish theologian”, and what these worthies have to say rarely rises above personalist banality. Woodlock ends her essay on what religion has done for us with: “The Qur’an calls such a person [a good one] ‘God’s representative on earth’ (Q2:30) and, as Ibn ‘Arabi describes it, we become al-insan al-kamil, ‘the locus for the manifestation of God’.” Hardly a crowd-puller of a final sentence.

Of the atheists, Loewenstein has his own tic. No matter what the topic, he manages to introduce his conviction about the infamy of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. He is the most openly perplexed of the panel, and this is winning, but there seems something curiously restricted in his sympathies and world view. Quite blithely, for example, he appears to equate love with sexual love. More than the others he betrays a personal context that must play into his thinking, but is unexplored – not least a longstanding alienation from his father.

Caro is the standout performer. I say this although I consider myself a struggling Catholic and she’s a chirpy atheist. But she speaks entirely in her own voice and has the ring of authenticity. Her easygoing straight-talking, her secular down-to-earthness, somehow seem to make her a more natural fit as an Australian. And the believers even seem self-conscious that their language and outlook make them alien, and they make folksy jokes to try to validate themselves as dinky-di.

Yet the book’s modus operandi seems to have had an effect on Smart. When he comes to the problem of evil he gives us perhaps the best pages in the symposium. His contemporary gurus are ditched and he claws his way through what he says is “the most problematic thing for me as a believer”. Amen to that. If “the Lord is loving and full of compassion”, as the Good Book tells us, how can he not grieve over his creation? But an all-powerful yet unhappy God? Surely not. Then again, the wholly divine, wholly human Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. On the questions revolve.

For God’s Sake: An Atheist, A Jew, A Christian And A Muslim Debate Religion
By Jane Caro, Antony Loewenstein, Simon Smart And Rachel Woodlock
Pan Macmillan Australia
298pp, $32.99

Gerard Windsor‘s most recent book is All Day Long the Noise of Battle, a nonfiction account of an Australian infantry company in Vietnam.