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.

How to fight mass privatisation one industry at a time

My following article appears in The Hoopla today:

The rate of incarceration of Indigenous Australians is higher per capita than it was for  blacks living in apartheid South Africa.

The Australian Institute of Criminology released figures this year that confirm the problem. One in four are behind bars and the over-representation of Indigenous people in West Australian jails is the highest of any indigenous group in the OECD.

It’s a national shame that barely registers in the mainstream media, even though many are warehoused by Serco, the British multinational, in places such as Acadia prison outside Perth. Michael Stutchbury, the former Economics Editor of The Australian and now editor of The Financial Reviewwrote in 2011 that this facility should be a “potential model for public prisons”. Privatise the lot was the mantra and screw the human cost.

Australia is following the failed American model. Although 2012 figures found that the prison population decreased there for the third year in a row, African-Americans remained disproportionately affected. On current trends, one in three black males born today can expect to spend some time in jail during their lifetimes.

This is akin to modern slavery, writes US writer Michelle Alexander in her incendiary book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness. It is “the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement”.

This is no accident and is fueled by the private firms running the countless prisons across America. Private prisons lobby state and federal politicians to ensure a set number of immigrants and other “illegals” are kept behind bars and profits are guaranteed at an agreed rate.

This is vulture capitalism of the crudest kind. 

One of the key reasons I’ve spent the last three years writing my new book (and forthcoming documentary) Profits of Doom is to document how the corporation has become more powerful than the state. I’ve visited Afghanistan and Pakistan to reveal the ways in which the US and its allies have privatised war-making since 9/11 and caused abuses on a massive scale.

Papua New Guinea, despite receiving more than half a billion dollars of Australian aid annually, remains mired in corruption and a desperate resource curse. Australian firms such as Rio Tinto are keen to return to mining in Bougainville despite causing environmental and human carnage in the 1980s and 90s.

US neighbour Haiti, more than three years after a devastating earthquake, is refused true independence from Washington and forced to agree to building South Korean run sweatshops making clothes for Kmart and Walmart.

In Australia, successive governments have outsourced the management of asylum seekers to corporations such as G4S and Serco (the latter now has more than $1.86 billion worth of contracts with Canberra). A senior Serco whistle-blower gave me internal documents that revealed endemic under-staffing and under-training of guards in remote facilities. The source detailed the culture of a firm whose record in Britain is routinely condemned by government reports and yet this has little or no effect on receiving further contracts.

This is neo-liberal ideology without consideration of the human factor. 

On the face of it this may all sound hopeless and I routinely receive (including during an online conversation with the Guardian last week) questions about any possible solutions. I believe there are ways to both re-establish political trust with the voting public and improve services for the population.

  • Politicians should be forced to explain how privatising essential services benefits the general public and not just corporations with the most effective connections.
  • The media should not accept overly restrictive access to detention centres and simply refuse to play along with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship when they don’t humanise the lives of asylum seekers.
  • There must be greater investment in publicly funded health and education as we should not follow the British push towards for-profit schools.
  • We should not outsource water, natural resources, war, aid and detention centres to the cheapest bidder. It rarely if ever delivers anything other than a shoddy job.

Our politicians should stop taking lobbying trips to Britain – yes, Western Australian Treasurer,Troy Buswell, lover of Serco in the UK, I’m looking at you – and acknowledge that “efficiency” isn’t best served by selling key assets to foreign or local, private interests.

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