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.

Why Australia and the world needs to legalise and tax drugs

My following column appears in the Guardian today:

Australians love consuming illicit drugs. We enjoy smoking, inhaling and losing our minds. Figures released by the Bureau of Statistics in June found that we are spending more than $7bn a year on a cocktail of various substances. The “war on drugs”, applied haphazardly by law enforcement, costs us around $1.1bn annually, according to a drug policy modelling program at the university of New South Wales. It’s an unmitigated disaster – one that benefits cartels and corrupt cops.

Do the maths. The state is spending billions of dollars every year imprisoning drug pushers and users, with private prison owners reaping the benefits. And yet, drug consumption is only increasing. Australia’s culture of incarceration desperately lacks in justice reinvestment to support troubled individuals in our communities, which includes a large number of drug users.

Governments and their media courtiers talk about being “tough on crime” and bravely fighting a battle against the drug scourge. They should look in the mirror and question how frequently politicians and journalists snort a line of coke on a Friday night. Hint: pretty damn often. Australians enjoy the greatest amount of recreational drugs per capita in the world, according to a 2012 UN world drug report.

Let’s get serious. Current policies bolster a dangerous cartel culture. The only way to tackle Australia’s addiction to drugs is to cautiously legalise and tax them – a move that simultaneously accepts that prohibition always fails, and gathers revenue to assist in rehabilitation for any negative health effects. This isn’t a utopian solution, guaranteed to end the black markets and stop all drug-related violence, sickness or diseases such as schizophrenia (which drugs can increase the risk of developing), but it’s one we have yet to try.

New Zealand, under a conservative government, is taking another path: it will soon regulate recreational drugs based on their harm. Only safe, psychoactive drugs will be sold from approved outlets. Bravo to acknowledging the inherent dangers in the massive growth of synthetic drugs (arguably a result of repressive drug laws) and trying to find legal ways to manage the huge market of mind-altering substances.

Cannabis, by far the most popular drug of choice in the nation, remains consumed by individuals often without police sanction. This is unofficial decriminalisation, though it’s applied unevenly. In America, a similar context has created a new Jim Crow, a vast, black underclass that is never given a chance to properly contribute to society. The situation is depressingly similar here – witness the high number of Indigenous Australians locked up for non-violent drug crime.

A 2012 report by the non-profit think tank Australia21 claimed that the country’s current legal regime against drugs is “killing our children”. Foreign minister Bob Carr, whose views were canvassed, said that he favoured “a bit of modest decriminalisation.” This is as brave as declaring a woman may be half-pregnant. It’s beyond time for more than baby steps.

Others were more forthright in the Australia21 report. Former NSW director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery said that he’s “strongly in favour of legalising, regulating, controlling and taxing all drugs”. It’s the kind of view that places him outside the political mainstream in this country. Even the Greens remain unwilling to call for drug legalisation. Instead, they push for harm minimisation, an undeniably positive step far ahead of the major party platforms, though weakened by years of a hysterical scare campaign warning that the party will personally give ecstasy pills to your teenage daughter.

But global attitudes towards the “war on drugs” are shifting. Twelve years after Portugal ditched criminal penalties for users, the results are largely positive with barely any rise in usage. The Organization of American States, which includes 35 north and south American countries, announced this year that decriminalisation must be considered after decades of poisonous, Washington-led drug policy that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

America, under the Obama administration, has deepened the “war on drugs”, including backing a coup in Honduras and funding a violent conflict against civilians there supported by a military directly complicit in the drug trade.

Latin America has a long memory, recalling the US-enabled “dirty wars” in the 1980s, that explains the more independent path pursued by nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. They suffered some of the worst outrages and today increasingly refuse to play Washington’s game. After all, the appetite for drugs inside North America has never been higher.

Australia lacks a culture of political bravery in its approach to the drug industry. Although many jurisdictions now utilise harm minimisation techniques – such as injecting rooms and diverting drug users away from the courts and towards treatment – punishment remains our main policy. After decades of ruining countless lives with our puritanical streak, mimicking America’s “just say no” to drugs with a bludgeon and the barrel of a gun, criminalising the most vulnerable still does nothing to address the underlying causes of drug use.

Fighting the “war on drugs” is not about ending consumption or destroying the cartels. It’s a bankrupt, imported ideology intended to appease the gullible. This war is fought principally against the poor and the underprivileged. In America, it’s a war fought by the white elites against an African-American underclass. Unless we want yet more generations lost in a battle the state can never win, say yes to a regulated drug trade.