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.

Questioning an ever-increasing and corporatised aid budget

My following article appears in the Guardian today:

I couldn’t believe my ears. I was in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, in 2012 and a local Oxfam employee told me that he wished Australia would again take control of his country. He argued that in the nearly four decades since independence, the state had not adapted to standing on its own. He wanted Canberra to train a new generation of Papua New Guineans in good governance. I had never heard a formerly colonised man begging for the return of his old master.

Australia already provides more than $500m every year to Papua New Guinea, though the record of implementation and losses from rampant corruption are infamous.

I understood the Oxfam employee’s impulse, yet cautioned against viewing Australian aid as inherently benign. Although we spend more than $5bn annually on “official development assistance”, there remains serious questions as to the efficiency and priorities of this money. Who receives it and why? Who decides? What are the key aims of the funds, and how do Australian business profits factor into Canberra’s decision making process?

It’s worth questioning the impulse to automatically support a constant increase in Australia’s aid budget. On this, the position offered by Greens senator Lee Rhiannon is one of the more nuanced, criticising both major political parties in refusing to guarantee regional development for the most vulnerable people by funding offshore processing of asylum seekers in squalid locations such as Nauru and Manus Island.

I often hear fresh and disturbing reports of private contractors paid by Australian taxpayers who are incapable of humanely managing refugees on Pacific hellholes. Even The Salvation Army, sources tell me, are barely coping with the influx of refugees, legitimising the government’s desperate plans to dump individuals away from prying media cameras. Mark Isaacs, a former Salvation Army staff member with no aid or social work training, worked for the NGO in Nauru; unsurprisingly, he’s now scathing of the ways in which Canberra mismanages the situation.

This is the new face of Australian aid, outsourced to NGOs that should know better and firms that only see dollar signs from a policy-on-the-run government. We are exporting a development model that isn’t working.

Public debate over Australia’s aid budget is largely invisible, including during an election campaign. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop recently said that “our diplomats will be required to understand our commercial interests.” In other words, the bottom line will always trump human rights. This should concern the peoples of Bougainville, Afghanistan or Mongolia. Take Rio Tinto, which stands accused of countless environmental breaches in the Gobi Desert and a host of other areas where Australian corporations operate with shoddy records.

It’s our responsibility to determine how we are viewed by the world, and our aid budget is a key component of this public face. Unfortunately, there are currently few legal or regulatory restrictions on Australian firms operating in foreign nations – a deliberate bi-partisan arrangement that runs counter to a recent call by the Australian Council for International Development who demanded greater accountability and transparency in foreign aid.

Self-appointed experts aren’t helping either. Bill Gates, speaking on ABC TV’s Q&A in May, claimed that aid “never creates dependency” and critics of the system are “promoting evil”. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have undoubtedly contributed greatly to the reduction of many deadly diseases globally, but their commitment to human rights is spotty. In June this year, Gates bought a stake in the troubled Israeli occupation-backing British multinational G4S. Moreover, Gates is sending the completely wrong message to the general public: “trust us, we know who should get your tax dollars, and accept our rationale for ever-increasing aid budgets”.

The facts simply don’t bare this out, as I’ve seen myself in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine. Aid dependency routinely leaves the host community or nation lacking necessary skills to empower themselves. This is arguably the aim, with western contractors tasked to “educate” the natives. Look at Haiti, where untold millions of dollars of aid has done little to address endemic housing and social problems.

This is not a call to massively reduce aid while claiming we’re good global citizens. Aid-bashing is a favourite pastime of neo-liberals who don’t believe we should be helping anybody. Austerity in the aid budget should be resisted, but strengthened accountability and transparent democratic processes are necessary.

Truly humanitarian aid (such as vaccinations) are vital and should be administered fairly while empowering local communities. Funds directed to tackling corruption or enhancing security -– witness in Afghanistan the futile efforts by bloated US corporation DynCorp to train police and security forces – are usually prone to abuse and yet this doesn’t stop London, Washington and Canberra continuing to fund them, perhaps so they can say they’re making a valiant effort despite countless reports outlining the failures.

Aid can’t solve developing country’s problems, though it can help if pursued well. Australia should not follow the lead of other industrialised nations by intimately tying aid to business outcomes. The results can only be exploitation in the name of helping impoverished nations. Sustainable aid revolves around trusting local partners in developing countries, and building connections that empower people without the constant presence of enriched foreign consultants.