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 and in paperback in January 2017.

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.

The war on drugs has failed, end it now

My column in the Guardian:

It takes a brave politician to advocate for the legalisation of all drugs in the current political climate. In Australia, Greens leader Richard Di Natale is pushing for the decriminalisation of illicit substances, arguing that drug-taking is a health issue rather than a criminal offence. Selling and distributing drugs would still be a crime under this idea, leaving a curious loophole in the proposal which, by the way, has been working working well in Portugal for over a decade.

Australia remains largely disconnected to more enlightened drug policies or proposals internationally. In Ireland police officers want the full decriminalisation of all illicit drugs. Canada’s new government is pledging to legalise marijuana. Uruguay has completely legalised marijuana. Growing numbers of US states are regulating and taxing marijuana (with authorities taking in nearly US$1bn in tax). The Economist magazine recently supported legalising marijuana while still noting the long-term health effects of extensive drug use.

The paucity of sensible public debate over drugs in Australia is clear. Neither the Labor nor Liberal party leaderships, fearing a tabloid press backlash, dare acknowledge the failures of prohibition. They’ll have to be dragged towards drug reform, though moves to support legal access to medical marijuana is to be welcomed. Huge numbers of Australians are taking drugs every week, and this is unlikely to stop; it seems redundant to say the “war on drugs” isn’t working.

“We must show some balls in war on drugs”, screamed Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph in 2015, and the message is followed by an obedient police force in New South Wales, arresting and charging countless young Australians possessing small amounts of illegal drugs. Despite strange, expensive and mocked anti-marijuana ads and excessive use of sniffer dogs, party drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine are widely consumed. Recently ABC TV’s 4 Corners showed the failureof current laws to deter drug use. Even Australia’s former top policeman, Mick Palmer, says that mass arresting personal drug users is futile.

But prohibitionists want even tougher police actions to arrest, charge and imprison users and dealers, conveniently ignoring decades of this failed approach. Let’s not forget that when the US officially launched its “war on drugs” in the 1970s, under President Nixon, it was framed as a battle against hedonists, left-wingers and the counter-culture. The result, more than 40 years later, has been an unmitigated disaster for African-Americans, locked up in unprecedented numbers. However, it’s been a major success for the private prison companies running the facilities.

No major country, however, dares argue for the complete legalisation of all drugs. German politician Hans-Christian Stroebele, Green Party founder, key Edward Snowden advocate and long-time supporter of drug legalisation, recently told me in Berlin that, “if young politicians push for legalising cocaine it would be dangerous for their careers.” He sees German law-makers as slavish followers of America so “when the US moves towards legalising [marijuana], so will Germany.”

I’ve spent this year in Germany investigating the reality of its “war on drugs” and why, as Europe’s most powerful nation, its drug policies are so reactionary. Different parts of the country view drugs with varying degrees of severity. Journalist and author Daniel Kulla told me that, “most of Germany is anti-drugs; there’s a police state in Bavaria. Central Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg, with more liberal drug laws, are not like the rest of the country. Areas of repression are intense around the nation.” All the evidence shows that German authorities are losing their battle against drug dealing, usage and addiction.

Germany is remarkably similar to Australia in terms of resisting positive drug reform. Berlin’s Gorlitzer Park, a beautiful space in Kreuzberg, is a key drug hub for dealing. When I visited I saw men from Guinea-Bissau and Gambia loitering near the entrances waiting for customers. Countless African men, usually waiting for asylum and legally unable to work, are prosecuted for possession but this has no effect on general drug use. Police work seems punitive and pointless.

Criminal lawyer Hannes Honecker explained to me that racism played a huge role in applying the law. “Many [German] police think, and they say and think publicly and privately, that black people in Gorlitzer Park all just deal drugs”, he said. There’s a clear correlation with the disproportionately high number of Indigenous Australians in jail for drug-related crimes, an institutional belief that men of dark skin should be punished for relatively minor infractions.

One of the key arguments for legalising drugs is the perceived reduction in criminality and violent gangs. There’s preliminary evidence from the US that this is happening in Denver, Colorado, due to legalising marijuana. But a word of caution that must be considered when drafting new policies. Ioan Grillo examines in his new book, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America, that, “drug cartels have morphed into weird hybrid of criminal CEO, rock star and paramilitary general … Over the last two decades, these crime families and their friends in politics and business have taken over much of the world’s trade in narcotics, guns, even people, as well as delved into oil, gold, cars and kidnapping. Their networks stretch throughout the United States into Europe, Asia and Australia. Their chain of goods and services arrives at all our doorsteps.”

Although legalising all drugs wouldn’t completely remove criminality in the world it should make a significant difference, argues Annie Machon, former British intelligence officer and European director of Leap, a global group of former and current police and government officials who oppose the “war on drugs”. “Decriminalisation is a good start”, she told me from Brussels, “but it wouldn’t remove criminal gangs. Leap supports legalising, regulating and taxing all drugs.”

After decades of surging drug-related violence globally, especially in Mexico and South America, another path is essential. Australia, Germany and other western nations, key markets for illicit substances that fuel the drug wars, should be the most committed to finding more humane and sensible solutions to manage the problem.

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