Australian activist Antony Loewenstein tells Susan Segar how profiteers make fortunes out of misery.
In January 2010, a huge earthquake shook the Caribbean island of Haiti. In less than a minute, more than 300,000 people were killed, over a million lost their homes, whole areas of the capital Port-au-Prince were left uninhabitable; even landmarks such as the presidential palace and Port-au-Prince cathedral went down. Much of the island’s fragile infrastructure was destroyed.
The country, physically disabled, now found itself at the mercy of vulture capitalism – “an ever-worsening phenomenon” that is dissected by bestselling activist author Antony Loewenstein in his latest book, Profits of Doom.
The Haiti earthquake provides just one instance of “canny capitalists sifting through the ashes of a disaster, looking for business opportunities”, he says, citing several other examples of “the cashed-up world of disaster profiteers, resource hunters, war contractors and aid leeches” and of ways in which the world is being “sold to the highest bidder without public consent”.
In Australia, all the detention centres for asylum seekers have been privatised and are run for profit by multinational companies, in an arrangement that sees little state oversight and few opportunities for media scrutiny.