Cory Bernardi moved in the Senate to condemn the Australian National University Socialist Alternative club for celebrating the centenary of the Russian Revolution.
On 18 October, he drew attention to the event and called on the Senate to “reject any assertion that the teachings of Lenin and Marx should be celebrated in a liberal democracy”.
By a slim margin, this motion got up, thus staving off the collapse of Western civilisation until at least 3 November next year, when the German revolution will be commemorated.
Bernardi toasted his victory, tweeting “wiser heads prevail” and “teachings of Marx/Lenin unwelcome in Australia”.
You may marvel at the notion that the upper house of the Australian parliament would condemn a student activist club for hosting a political meeting at a university.
But there is historical precedent for parliaments wasting time and energy whingeing about the left.
In 1907, Russia’s parliament, the Duma, censured the Bolshevik Party for advocating a revolution to overthrow the absolutist monarchy. Like Bernardi, the Russian regime had a disapproving attitude to socialist literature, forcing radicals to smuggle the works of Marx and Engels into the country in suitcases with false bottoms.
The socialists’ leaders, including the notorious Lenin, were forced to live in exile. The teachings of Marx and Lenin were certainly unwelcome in tsarist Russia.
This all brought years of peace, prosperity and stability. Well, peace – except for the four-year slaughter the country entered into in 1914; prosperity – except for the millions of people at the bottom of Russia’s vast class divisions; and stability – until the revolution a decade later, when the Russian people arose with world-shaking consequences, those same ostracised socialists at their head.
So maybe there’s something to be taken from Bernardi’s latest venture out of his own derangement and into the mainstream of Australian politics (it’s incredible how seamlessly that happens). The nightmares of the powerful can be prescient. Here’s hoping.