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.

Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything advocates serious climate change action

My following book review appears in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age:

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Capitalism vs the Climate


ALLEN LANE, $29.99

Protest book: This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein.

“If the news that in the past 40 years the world has lost over 50 per cent of its vertebrate wildlife fails to tell us there is something wrong with the way we live,” British journalist George Monbiot wrote recently, “it’s hard to imagine what could.”

The culture of uncontrolled production is the mantra of our age. “We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly,” he argued.

It’s a key point throughout Naomi Klein’s new book, already a bestseller in America. Following her era-defining works, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, Klein examines in exhaustive detail the politics, ethics and realities around climate change. She shows how the Western power elites remain in denial about the extent of the problem because it suits their economic interests to do so.

“Finding new ways to privatise the commons and profit from disaster is what our current system is built to do,” she writes. “Left to its own devices, it is capable of nothing else.”

But this is not simply an apocalyptic road-trip through an environmental movement that has often struggled to attract convincing political support (though the nearly 400,000 people who marched through New York streets recently and demanded action on climate change rightly said that their voices must be heard).

Instead, Klein tackles big business, oil and gas, the green movement, corrupt trade options – she takes aim at deals such as  the one  being negotiated with Australia, The Trans-Pacific Partnership, that would allow multinationals the power to sue Australia for loss of income, lessening our sovereignty – and a mainstream media that largely follows the narrative set by its paymasters and advertisers.

A Washington Post column in September was symptomatic of the problem.  Robert Samuelson stated that the US should celebrate his country’s “oil boom” and export more of it to the world. Unsaid, despite the paper’s publicly articulated position that climate change is real and must be tackled, was the scientifically proven fact that controlling steadily increasing temperatures globally requires leaving those fossil fuels in the ground while funding renewable energy sources.

Klein has not written just another book about a burning planet. Her prognosis may seem radical – capitalism is the problem because of its voracious appetite for consumption and alternatives must be found to save us from an uninhabitable earth – but it’s only because the terms of current debate are so staid. “We need an ideological battle,”  she told The Guardian. “It is still considered politically unthinkable just to introduce straight-up, polluter-pays punitive measures – particularly in the US.”

In her book, Klein demolishes the arguments put by climate-change deniers that even if the world is warming, a detail often not accepted by older and white conservative males such as leading US Republicans, it doesn’t matter because it “isn’t something wealthy people in industrialised countries have to worry about it”. The market will solve it, or perhaps technology, or maybe science or potentially faith. Who cares about the millions of Africans starving on parched land, conditions worsened by Western economic policies?

“In the wealthier nations,” Klein writes, “we will protect our major cities with costly seawalls and storm barriers while leaving vast areas of coastline that are inhabited by poor and indigenous people to the ravages of storms and rising seas.” This is a disaster guaranteed to bring a surging refugee population and conflict.

Klein isn’t just examining the fallacies of the deniers but also deep failings of the environmental movement. She’s scathing of collusion between The Nature Conservancy and BP America, Chevron and Shell and other major green groups that falsely believed gradual movement on reducing carbon was preferable to frightening the horses and attacking the very corporations that are principally responsible for a warming world. “Market-based solutions” have been a catastrophic failure, Klein shows, and “provided an invaluable service to the fossil fuel sector.”

The world’s largest conservation group, WWF International, is the subject of a new German book, Pandaleaks, damning “green-washing” with Monsanto, Coca-Cola and HSBC and accusing the group of “supplying industry with a green, progressive image”.

Klein’s solutions to the climate crisis are ambitious and already criticised by some as ignoring the Earth’s natural cycles; in this logic, trying to alter the climate is futile. She advocates a combination of building a mass movement for change, finding inspiration in local campaigns that challenge the status-quo, divestment against fossil fuels and huge resistance. Success is far from guaranteed.

She writes with verve, passion, facts and accessible insight, allowing her message to reach a mass audience. “What if part of the reason so many of us have failed to act,” she concludes, “is not because we are too selfish … but because we are utterly overwhelmed by how much we do care?”

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author of Profits of Doom (MUP)

one comment ↪
  • Simon Jm

    Its about the economy and jobs stupid, something the environmental movement as a whole has never understood. Never appeal to the opposition with arguments that align with your values and not theirs.