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.

Making a killing from climate change

My following book review appeared in the Melbourne Age/Sydney Morning Herald last weekend:

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming 

Who says global warming is bad for the world? The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report found widespread and consequential effects on food systems and ecosystems, with detrimental ramifications for billions of people around the globe.

But that is only the negative reading of the incontrovertible scientific consensus. Another, far smaller group of people see climate variations as a unique opportunity to make a fortune. Deutsche Bank’s former chief climate strategist, Mark Fulton, used to help his employer identify global warming as a ”megatrend” that could guarantee profits for years. ”It’s always helped me, climate change, in my career,” he jokes with US journalist McKenzie Funk in this timely and necessary book on the new normal for vulture capitalism.

Disasters, man-made and natural, can be wonderful for energising our largely unregulated free markets. They are less welcome for the individuals who cannot afford to insulate themselves from the effects of rising temperatures, extreme storms, melting ice caps and battles for energy security.

Funk’s book is a warning – a unique insight into a world that largely exists in the business pages of our media. A fund manager tells him some insurance companies are licking their lips over climate change, because increasing rates prove ”hurricane season is actually quite a positive thing”. Screw the environmental and practical devastation on lives and property.

As Funk travels to many nations to document the ways in which changing temperatures are ruining life as they know it, he acknowledges this vital fact. ”It’s about people, and mostly it’s about people like me: northerners from the developed world – historically the emitter countries, as we’re called – who occupy the high, dry ground, whether real or metaphorical.”

The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre released figures last month about the declining amount of ice in the Arctic Circle, the fifth lowest peak since 1978. That is 12 per cent shrinking of ice per decade since the late 1970s. This will have worrying effects on rising sea levels and low-lying nations.

Greenland is ground zero for these battles and Funk outlines what is at stake; up to 22 per cent of the world’s untapped oil and gas deposits are ”thought to be hiding in the high north, some of it in territory that does not yet belong to any nation”.

”The less ice there is, the more petroleum there is within reach, and the most pressure there is to stake a claim.”

BP, Shell and London Mining are racing to industrialise the pristine Arctic area and an Australian company, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd, is ready to exploit Greenland’s recent approval of uranium mining.

This book details the massive energy multinationals that years ago, internally at least, recognised the threat of climate change and their ability to make money from it. The former head of scenario planning for Royal Dutch Shell published a report for the Pentagon in 2004 that extreme weather was inevitable and re-engineering climate to suit our conditions was necessary. The Pentagon’s concerns, Peter Schwartz tells Funk, revolves around one word: Mogadishu. ”Massive drought led to famine, which led to the collapse of Somalia, which led to the UN intervention, which led to the US intervention, which led to military disaster. They see a string of Mogadishus rolling off into the future.”

It is hard not to view this US position as the white man’s burden, reluctantly saving whichever individuals or communities deemed important to serve imperial interests. Bangladesh is already facing the prospect of millions of citizens being displaced by rising oceans. In the brutal, upcoming Darwinian gamble, it is hard to see the Washington elite viewing them as essential.

Funk speaks to firefighters in Los Angeles who are offering their services to the highest insurance bidder, water privateers, Wall Street bankers buying up valuable land in South Sudan and African environmental refugees desperately looking for arable land.

This compelling investigation into the darker sides of modern nature, as some states will lose parts of their land and people in the 21st century, is sober and not inflammatory.

Funk is right when he concludes climate change is also an issue of human justice.

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author of Profits of Doom.

  • siquijorisland

    We know that all the knowledge about the physical world comes from experiments that can be validated and not from calculations that cannot be validated. And yet, everything about man-made global warming is about calculations and NOTHING about measurements.

    Read one or a few chapters of one of the NIPCC reports, as i have done, and ask if what you read is logical, factual, and relevant to the debate. See if the UN or its many apologists take into account the science and evidence NIPCC summarizes, and then decide whether its predictions of “of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods” is science or fiction. Sadly the main stream media is no more
    reliable as a news source than Comedy Central when it comes to science..

  • PatrickInBeijing

    We can measure the effects of man-made global warming, and there are a number of web sites and scientific reports online that show the results. Biologists note species migration Northward into previously hostile climate zones. Tree lines move up mountains. The measurable evidence is clear. Glaciers are shrinking. The Arctic ice cap is melting. We see it everywhere, and we measure it. This is science. Deniers mostly lie. Anyone honest doubter should do some research.