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.

Fighting the far-right is a duty for us all

My weekly Guardian column:

It was a pitiful sight. In Brisbane last Friday, the far-right Australia First party announced that it would rally on the streets in solidarity with Greece’s neo-Nazi aligned political organisation, Golden Dawn. In the end, less than 10 supporters arrived and faced off with around 200 unionists and members of the Antifa group shouting “immigrants are welcome, Nazis are not!”.

Before the rally, Australia First released a statement that called on the Greek government to “release from gaol the illegally imprisoned Golden Dawn members of parliament, including the leader of the Golden Dawn party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos.”

Golden Dawn are one of the most aggressive and successful fascist parties in Europe, surging into the Greek parliament and assaulting immigrants and minorities. They’re a sign of the times across Europe in the 21st century, with far-rightists becoming more mainstream as a reaction to the extreme austerity policies imposed by the European Union and global organisations in the wake of the financial crisis.

Not long ago, it was politically acceptable to blame Jewish people for economic uncertainty; today it’s migrants (often from a Muslim background) and asylum seekers. In Britain, the English Defence League (EDL) and some members of the popular UK Independence party (Ukip) are already manipulating public insecurity and targeting the vulnerable.

On the face of it, the paltry showing of far-right backers on Australian streets indicated that such views thankfully remain on the fringes of society. There’s no question that Australia has nothing like the formidable presence of a Golden Dawn or Ukip at the heart of its political system, but it’s worth noting the last years have seen a steady growth in disturbing far-right activity in Melbourne, Sydney and beyond (the anti-Islamic Australian Defence League, for example, is actively seeking to expand its membership). Although it remains on the edges, the broader movement is increasingly finding resonance with people who feel left out in our globalised world.

A key chronicler of these movements is Andy Fleming – he uses a pseudonym because he’s spent the last decade following extreme-right parties and groups on his blog, Slack Bastard. He describes himself as an “anarchist, blogger and writer with a particular interest in the far right.” I asked him if these groups are growing in Australia and he tells me that it remains marginal – but with a big potential for growth. He said:

“Both major parties have adopted exceptionally punitive measures with regards asylum seekers and refugees. These policies, and the politics which inform them, help to fuel the xenophobia which the far right feeds upon. In terms of growth, existing groups on the far right are struggling to capitalise upon this sentiment, both as a result of their own inadequacies but also because the audience they appeal to is often politically unengaged. The challenge for the far right is to develop the means to overcome this lack of political sophistication.”

The vast bulk of far-right activity occurs online. Golden Dawn has an office in Melbourne and an active presence there; its Facebook page explains the party’s public activities and online key supporters and fundraisers aren’t shy about their backing. Fleming argues that Golden Dawn has real potential to implant itself in the Greek Australian community, but that to do so, it will need to tone down its fascist image.

Fleming explains that the rhetoric by Golden Dawn and similar groups has shifted their target away from Judaism and towards Islam in recent decades for “pragmatic reasons”. But for others, he says, “antipathy towards Muslims is driven by genuine paranoia regarding Islam. In either case, both tendencies understand that Islamophobia sells: Muslims have been portrayed by important segments of the mass media and politics as a threat to Australian values and customs.”

One of the most prominent anti-Muslim organisations in the country is the Q Society. It hosted the prominent, Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders in 2013 and organised a conference this year in Melbourne with some of America’s leading Islamophobes. Its public face isn’t the crude racism so relished by other ideologically similar organisations, and yet some of its policies advocate Australia ending all Muslim immigration and removing the country from the UN Refugee Convention.

Debbie Robinson, president of the Q Society, tells me that her organisation opposes any groups that “espouse a racist or anti-Semitic element”, such as Golden Dawn and the Australia First party. So far so good, but then she explains that “we consider organisations propagating totalitarian ideologies like fascism, nationalism, communism and Islam as anti-democratic and often acting in violation of basic human rights.” It would then be fair to deduce that for the Q Society, Islam is akin to fascism.

Robinson says that her group’s strategy involves using citizen lobbyists to engage with politicians, schools and “other entities involved in the Islamisation process.”

If the Q Society isn’t flirting with violence, other far-right groups are. ABC TV’s 7.30 recently detailed the Australian Defence League (ADL) and its attacks on the Muslim community. There is growing evidence that Australians are most likely to be prejudiced against people of Middle Eastern background.

Sydney-based Muslim woman, Miran Hosny, writer and host of the weekly radio program The Y Factor, tells me that the intimidation of her community is worsening. She recalls a recent media story of a Sydney Muslim girl whose photo had been taken and posted on the ADL Facebook page without permission (Facebook eventually removed the image). “The ADL simply reacted by re-posting the photo onto Facebook along with a status asking its members to take photos of random Muslim women to humiliate them online”, she told me. “Hearing that definitely made me anxious. My commute home that day was very uncomfortable. I kept glancing around me, keeping an eye out for anyone who might be trying to snap a photo of me due to my hijab.”

Hosny argues that she’s noticed an increase in racist behaviour. “Previously, most Islamophobic encounters that my family and friends experienced took place in the CBD. But it feels like the ADL now has an increased presence in western Sydney, where many Muslims reside. Watching this right wing extremism take a grassroots grip on Sydney makes me even more frustrated about the proposed amendments to section 18C of the racial discrimination act.”

Fascism comes in various modern stripes and we can never be too vigilant against its insidious agenda.

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