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“Lament for the Revolution”—Karma Nabulsi for the London Review of Books

Tamar Shlaim21 October 2010

A beautiful article by Karma Nabulsi for the London Review of Books on the state of the Palestinian liberation movement:

Palestinians are currently trapped in a historical moment that—as the contemporary world sees it—belongs to the past. The language the situation demands had life only inside an ideology which has now disappeared.

Everyone else has moved on. In a world whose intellectual framework is derived from university courses in postcolonial or cultural studies, from the discourse of post-nationalism, or human rights, or global governance, from post-conflict and security literature, the Palestinians are stuck fast in historical amber. They can't move on, and the language that could assist them to do so is as extinct as Aramaic. No one cares any longer for talk of liberation: in fact, people flinch at the sound of it—it is unfashionable, embarrassing, reactionary even to speak of revolution today. Twenty-first-century eyes read revolutionary engagement as the first stage on the road to the guillotine or the Gulag. Advanced now well beyond the epic and heroic stages of its history, the West views its own revolutionary roots through the decadent backward gaze of Carl Schmitt. Seen through that prism, Palestinians remain stubbornly—one could almost say, wilfully—in the anti-colonial, revolutionary phase of their history.

Visit the London Review of Books to read article in full.