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.

How disaster capitalism worsens Greece’s approach to refugees

Salon publishes an edited extract from my new book, Disaster Capitalism:

The detainees were all desperate to speak to us. They were all Afghan men under thirty, mostly from the Hazara ethnic group, though I saw a few older men with gray beards standing behind the others. The police had picked them all up in Athens, after they had lived free in the community for different periods of time. Some told me that they had been inside detention centers for more than eighteen months — the maximum time allowed, until the law changed in 2014, that the Greek state could indefinitely detain a refugee. Some had been detained for more than two years.

The Greek Council for Refugees argued that this new directive was in breach of Greek, European, and international law. In such a toxic political climate, it was left to this group to manage the huge load on the Greek system. Spokesperson Elina Sarantou was angry about her country’s attitude towards refugees. The European Refugee Fund, as well as national and international foundations, supported her group. With around sixty staff and little public trust in NGOs after some high-profile scandals, its profile was small and funds were limited. As a consequence, the council was overwhelmed by the demand. It had only twelve lawyers and twelve social workers in a country that needed thousands more— they saw over 8,000 refugees annually. “We are running programs of legal support for victims of racist violence, by police, far-right thugs, and others,” Sarantou said, “though 80 percent of these victims don’t have legal papers so are scared of taking the cases to court.”

The sheer number of asylum seekers arriving on Greek shores has given Greece an opportunity to use both its head and its heart. Sarantou explained how the government started an Asylum Service in 2013—a small and positive step towards addressing the abuses in arbitrary detention. The UNHCR praised the move. Despite this, she said, police still saw asylum seekers as “clandestines”; the police still had an “Aliens Department.” The service was mostly funded by the UN and remained in need of more backing. The EU’s border management agency, Frontex—condemned by Human Rights Watch in 2011 for “exposing migrants to inhuman and degrading conditions”—said that eight out of ten refugees coming to Europe were entering through Greece.

The Greek infrastructure of control for asylum seekers included a first-reception center in Evros, on the land border with Turkey, which was funded by the UNHCR and the EU. It had a maximum stay of twenty-five days, and claims were assessed in that time if possible. “It’s a decent place,” Sarantou said, “though still like a prison, and you can’t leave. We oppose these facilities, as there are few rights. The state has laws that put Greeks first for employment and asylum seekers last. They should provide protection for those in need—especially minors, single-parent families, and those with health and psychological problems.”

Instead, Athens announced in 2012 that it had opened thirty new camps for immigrants on disused army sites. With countless refugees living in squalor in and around Athens—I saw many sleeping rough and in need of a good meal and a wash—it was unsurprising that the government announced the decision as a response to rising levels of violent crime. With unemployment soaring and the youth jobless rate reaching well above 50 percent, the state reacted according to a tradition of impulsiveness, lacking any long-term plan.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are wandering aimlessly through the streets,” said the former citizens’ protection minister, Michalis Chrysohoidis, “being forced to break the law, being exploited by criminal networks and deterring legitimate immigrants from staying in the country.” Authorities announced that migrants would be moved into shabby “closed hospitality centers,” to keep them off the streets and out of sight of angry Greek voters.

In mid 2014, Global Detention Project released a comprehensive list of Greek facilities that itemized over thirty central and remote locations that were mostly staffed by police—a group with a long history in Greece of assaulting refugees.

It was a strange and sad experience, standing on one side of the Corinth fence, under the glaring sun, unable to get inside the center, and exchanging halting words with caged men. Everyone wanted to talk to us—to share their stories, explain their pain, and protest their detention. “We are suffering in here,” they said. A mass hunger strike by detainees occurred in June 2014 to protest a new ministerial order allowing indefinite detention, unofficially supported by harsh European Union directives. The facility was hit with riots in 2013. A statement released by the migrants read in part: “With the systematic and open-ended detention, the Greek government is massacring us. They are wasting our lives and killing our dreams and hopes inside the prisons. All of that while none of us has committed a crime.”

Chaman translated for me. None of the men wanted to return to Afghanistan because they feared persecution or worse. They all hated Greece for the way it treated refugees. They wished to get to Germany, or other European nations with better conditions. One man showed me a bullet lodged in his foot since he had been shot by guards while trying to escape. He had asked for surgery to remove it but was refused. All the men stated that the police regularly beat them, and that conditions inside were awful. The European Court of Human Rights had condemned conditions inside Greek detention centers eleven times, as had many Greek courts when considering excessive periods of detention. The UN opposed extended periods of administrative detention as “standard practice aimed at discouraging irregular entry or stay in the country.”

After one minute, the guards wanted us to leave. We refused and said we needed more time. I passed the tea and sugar to the detainees, and after ten minutes we were directed to leave. The fence was firmly shut. The smell of sweat hung in the air from men cooped up in the searing heat. Chaman told me that he felt obliged to help his fellow Afghans and visit them in detention, taking them to lawyers and doctors in Athens when they were released. “It’s part of my mission,” he said.

Excerpted from “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe” by Antony Loewenstein, published by Verso Books.

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