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.

Fortress Australia keeping out persecuted Hazaras from Afghanistan

It’s a shameful irony that can’t be forgotten. Australia has had troops in Afghanistan since 2001, supposedly to fight terrorism and the Taliban. The Hazaras are constantly under attack by extremists and many of them must flee for a safer life. Australia may be trying to convince Hazaras not to leave but the terrible facts on the ground make that unlikely.

This Wall Street Journal article details the reality of Australia’s draconian asylum seeker policy:

Wazira, a 37-year-old mother of six, abandoned her home and apple orchard in Afghanistan’s rural Wardak province last year and moved with her whole family into a single room on the fringes of the Afghan capital.

“We didn’t have any choice but to come to Kabul,” she says. “The Taliban were forcing us to prepare food for them. But if we did, the government would harass us. We were stuck in the middle.”

More than 590,000 Afghans had been displaced from their homes by fighting and Taliban threats by late August, according to the United Nations, a 21% increase since January and more than four times the number in 2006, when the insurgency began in earnest. Wazira, who like many Afghans goes by one name, is one of more than 12,000 displaced people from Wardak province alone who now share homes around Kabul, according to the U.N.

U.N. officials worry that widening violence could kick off an exodus abroad when American-led forces leave the country next year.

For those trying to leave Afghanistan altogether, the first stop often is neighboring Iran or Pakistan. Some who are wealthy or lucky enough head for Europe or Australia, which already is coping with an influx of Afghan boat people. Some 38,000 people from Afghanistan have managed to get into industrialized nations to apply for asylum last year, more than from any other country, according to the U.N., and the highest figure since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

“The desperation is incredible,” says Richard Danziger, the Afghanistan head of the International Organization for Migration, a U.N. affiliate that is helping resettle the refugees.

The bulk of Afghan migrants aim for Western Europe, according to U.N. data. Last year, about 7,500 Afghans applied for asylum in Germany, followed by Sweden, which received 4,750 applications, and Turkey, which got 4,400. Only 204 Afghans applied for asylum in the U.S.

Australia is regarded by many Afghans as a land of especially good opportunity. The number of Afghan refugees showing up on Australian beaches hit 4,256 last year, up from 118 in 2008, according to the Australian government.

“In our village, people are mainly talking about Australia: Who reached it from our village? Who sent money from Australia? How is the route?” says Ali Shah, a 60-year-old baker from the Muqur district in Ghazni province, a Taliban stronghold.

Last year, Mr. Shah fled his home with 10 family members. “Muqur is not safe,” he says. “The Taliban run their own government. They control checkpoints and administer justice.” Mr. Shah is now jobless and living in a different district. His 25-year-old son, Sabir, left Afghanistan this spring, hoping to reach Australia.

The journey to Australia often begins with a smuggler in Kabul. One such operative, who uses the name Hadi, told a Journal reporter that he charges up to $10,500 for visa and travel to Indonesia. It would cost another $5,000 to attempt to reach Australia by boat, he said. The cost means that many would-be migrants are, by Afghan standards, relatively affluent, such as small-business owners.

Many who head for Australia, including Mr. Shah’s son, belong to the ethnic Hazara minority that has been persecuted by the Taliban, and that has the most to lose should the Taliban return to power after the American withdrawal.

“All the people are worried about what will happen after 2014, and so are the Hazaras,” says Afghan Hazara leader Mohammed Mohaqeq, who is running for vice president in next year’s national elections. He survived an assassination attempt in June. “Security is getting worse everywhere,” he says.

Hayatullah Saadat, 28, an English-speaking management graduate from an Indian university, says he hopes to get to Australia next spring, by boat if necessary. “I came back from India and thought: ‘I have to help Afghanistan,’ ” he says. “But then I lost hope. Nobody is sure about their income. Nobody is sure about their life.”

The journey to Australia typically takes refugees through Pakistan or India, then Malaysia and Indonesia. Some have died on the last leg when the Indonesian fishing boats they were traveling in sank.

After Australia tightened its immigration policy, many refugees now are stranded in Malaysia and Indonesia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s conservative coalition, elected in September, is promising to use the Australian Navy to intercept and forcibly return refugee boats to other countries’ waters. His predecessor, Kevin Rudd, had instituted a policy to remove asylum-seekers to poorer countries such as Papua New Guinea to be processed and resettled there.

As a result, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, which has long served as the starting point for the sea crossing to Australia, is becoming packed with Afghans. Some 80 refugees are living in the dilapidated Mahkota Hotel in the Sulawesi town of Makassar, one of scores of rundown residences filled with Afghans. The International Organization for Migration is paying for the housing.

  • Kevin Herbert

    Ashamed to be an Aussie.