Mark LeVine: Nowhere Left to Run

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. He has authored several books including Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv and the Struggle for Palestine (University of California Press, 2005) and An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).]

It has been a strange political season. It began sitting in Istanbul with Swedish friends, digesting the news that the rabidly anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats had won an unprecedented 5.6 per cent of the vote in the country's parliamentary elections. Analysts immediately began to predict that the election would mark "an entirely new political landscape" and "the beginning of an era of sharper political division in Sweden".

Who would have thought that a mere six weeks later, pundits and analysts across the Atlantic would write almost identical words in the wake of the US midterm elections? Do these similarities point to a bigger story? Is 2010 proving to be a watershed year in politics in the West (we could add the historic defeat of the British Labour Party to this list, as well as elections in Greece in which the ruling Socialist Party pledged to impose unprecedented austerity measures)?

Or do the results reflect rather an underlying continuity in the generation-long evolution of Euro-American politics towards a fully neoliberalised system - one which supports the pursuit of unbridled wealth by elites while those with the most to lose conveniently spend their energy attacking immigrants, minorities and the poor - the system's ultimate victims?...

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