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 is vulture capitalism doing to our world?

My follow article appears today in The Conversation:

The story in last weekend’s Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was stark:

“[Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd will warn people smugglers he stands ready to create an island from hell in Papua New Guinea housing 10,000 asylum seekers.”

The message, an “exclusive” by News Corp Australia journalist Samantha Maiden, was to inform refugees that Australia would not tolerate ongoing boat arrivals and that PNG was their worst nightmare. The warning was to avoid being warehoused for years in a tent city. Whoever wins the federal election on September 7 has pledged to continue this off-shore, arguably illegal, cruelty. It’s Australian-led imperialism of the crudest kind.

Too often we ignore an examination of which companies will benefit from massively expanding facilities for asylum seekers. For the last few decades, Australia has outsourced this policy to countless unaccountable multinationals, such as Britain’s G4S and Serco, who make huge profits from asylum seekers languishing in their non-care.

In my new book, Profits of Doom, I investigate the grubby deals that have enriched corporations but left countless guards and refugees suffering mental health problems. It’s the perfect storm of neo-liberal “reform”, copied from the US and UK since the 1970s, where the role of the state is reduced and essential public services are outsourced to firms with shocking human rights records.

The immigration industrial complex is a global trend that leaves vulnerable men, women and children without properly funded attention.

As part of the book’s research, a senior Serco manager leaked internal documents revealing the massive price-gouging, under-training and under-staffing occurring across its network under a contract worth more than A$1.86 billion. This individual was scathing of the culture within the corporation, desperate to avoid being fined by Canberra for contractual breaches, and willing to tell managers to ignore problems worsened by the cheapest care possible, namely long-term isolation and rampant self-harm by asylum seekers.

Apart from visiting some of Australia’s most remote centres, such as Curtin in Western Australia and Christmas Island, the aim of the book is to uncover the global trends that were outlined in Naomi Klein’s 2007 best-seller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The Canadian writer focused on the ways in which natural and man-made disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq conflict, were the perfect vehicles for private companies to sell their wares and make massive profits.

Profits of Doom, and an upcoming documentary of the same name, expands Klein’s thesis by arguing that war, aid, resources and detention centres are now targets for rampant outsourcing. The results for locals in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea is almost universally negative. It’s a reality largely ignored by the mainstream media, with many journalists equally committed to the same economic plan outlined by the political elites. It’s a cosy club that says plenty about the insularity of the reporter’s world where physical and psychological embedding has replaced independence.

Take Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Australian mining company Rio Tinto ran a highly profitable mine in the province until the late 1980s. Landowners and communities gained precious little from the operation. Environmental destruction was rampant – even today, 25 years after its closure, vast tracts of land remain polluted with little prospect of a proper clean-up – and local resistance was almost inevitable. A war ensued with a guerrilla force on one side and Rio Tinto and the PNG and Australian governments on the other. Mining-backed militias caused carnage and up to 20,000 locals were killed in the years-long battle.

Today there are renewed calls by Rio Tinto, Canberra and the Bougainville government to forget the past. Many PNG ministers opposed the mine years ago but, with corporate and AusAid backing, now support large-scale mining.

But without investigations into crimes allegedly committed by Rio Tinto’s proxy forces, history is destined to repeat itself. There are alternatives to mining for a poor province, such as tourism and agriculture, but Australia’s pro-mining agenda bullies poor nations to give access to Australian corporations to profit from what lies under the ground.

This is just one example where vulture capitalism is running rampant. In Afghanistan we are told that the Western war is winding down, but an army of private contractors and militias will remain long after 2014. This is simply a rebranded occupation. There are currently around 108,000 contractors in the nation, most of whom operate under a legal code that ignores abuses.

In Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, the nation is suffering under a weight of NGOs, UN soldiers and US pressure to be used as a base for clothing sweatshops servicing Walmart and Kmart. Like so many nations, from Pakistan to PNG, Haiti craves true independence, including the ability to thrive with aid that doesn’t enrich for-profit corporations.

Challenging unaccountable companies, and the states, media and businesses that support them, is a key aim of my work. It’s inspiring to see individuals and groups across the world, who are fighting for justice and sovereignty. Empowering them and raising their voices, while pushing for an alternative economic model that doesn’t encourage unregulated capitalism, is the only way forward.