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.

How to make mining corporations in Africa respect human rights

The reality of international and Australian mining corporations in Africa can be grim for local civilians. My latest Guardian investigation examines these issues. I interview a journalist from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Will Fitzgibbon, about his organisation’s recent work on the subject and the following is the full interview extracted in the Guardian:

What’s been the overall response to your recent report?

There has been a very positive response to the ICIJ project Fatal Extraction. Australian politicians, civil society and lawyers involved in business and human rights and concerned by the social and environmental impacts of mining see this as what it is – the most detailed investigation into Australia’s corporate mining footprint in Africa.

There are some very engaged actors in this sector, including Oxfam and the Human Rights Law Centre. But there is also a sense that Australia’s debate on corporate impacts and alleged violations overseas is much more limited than elsewhere. In Canada, for example, there have been lengthy parliamentary debates and deep media analyses of comparable allegations in a way that is yet to happen in Australia.

Should companies have to abide by strict regulatory laws?

The jury is still out on whether new laws are the most pressing response to this problem. Many argue that there’s a lot that can also be done in terms of company reporting to investors and of promoting voluntary and transparent application of international principles of business and human rights.

How should the Australian government tackle the problem?

What struck me most was successive governments’ incuriousness about the impacts that mining companies could be having overseas. The first step is awareness, which can then feed in to decisions relating to aid funding of mining-related projects, investment decisions by government bodies and diplomatic support. I hope that ICIJ’s work is a a contribution to that raising of awareness.

Given the size of Australia’s overseas resource presence, there would seem to be a case for more Australian leadership on implementing and championing global business and human rights principles. Time and time again, experts inside and outside Australia told me they wish there was more interest from within Australia.

One constant refrain I heard from victims, lawyers and even politicians from Senegal to South Africa was that they wanted their grievances to be heard in Australia. Even for well-resourced civil society organizations, it is difficult to find avenues of redress or complaint within Australia. Legal barriers are high and costly while non-judicial systems supposed to assist  those impacted by Australian multinationals, such as the OECD National Contact Point based inside the Treasury, are underfunded and almost forgotten by Australia’s decision-makers. Advocates in Africa also complain about how difficult it is to grab the attention of Australian investors and shareholders in companies accused of wrongdoing or implicated in scandal.

Other countries, such as Canada and France, have experimented with monetary fines for companies found guilty of gross human rights abuses or revoking potential government export support. Canada even introduced an ombudsman with a specific mandate to receive and investigate allegations of corporate abuses by Canadian extractive industry companies operating overseas.

Why are the problems so ignored?

Part of it is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ There is a huge imbalance between Australia’s diplomatic and business interests in Africa.  We still have one of the lowest numbers of embassies and high commissions in Africa among our peers yet we have mining companies, sometimes literally flying the Australian flag, in places like Burkina Faso, Niger, Madagascar and Zambia.

Mining operations often happen in remote corners of countries that few Australians know of.

What’s more, language barriers, especially in Francophone Africa, limit the spread of news back home that relates to Australian companies.

Reporting in Africa requires a lot of costly footwork. It is hard to get information without spending days searching through filing cabinets in regional bureaucratic offices. Interviews with those who have suffered can take months to organize. Lots of media don’t have the capacity to invest in these kinds of stories. That’s part of what ICIJ does – the leg work and data analysis that traditional, for profit media cannot often do.

What’s been the response in Africa?

This project by ICIJ is perhaps the largest ever Africa-based collaboration of journalists. With ICIJ working together with journalists on the ground, we were able to help produce some great examples of investigations that countries with more difficult media environments, like Mali, have rarely seen.

Bringing together the behaviour of Australian companies as a corporate entity across an entire region rather than just one-off stories has helped draw attention to the issue for decision-makers in Africa. Ultimately, these are the men and women who sign off on deals with companies and make the choice between firms from Australia, Canada, China, Brazil or elsewhere.

no comments – be the first ↪