Campaigning with communists


Thank you, Huffington Post Australia, for publishing a lovely fluff piece about “a day on the campaign trail” with Australia’s most disgusting politician, the Greens’ NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon.

As a lifelong hard-core communist who only walked away from the cause after the fall of the Berlin Wall, concepts like democracy, free elections, and campaigning must still feel a bit unnatural to the good Senator, but I’m glad she’s giving it a fair go and getting into the swing of things.

Writes Huffington Post’s Acting Political Editor, Josh Butler:

Photos and newspaper clippings from Rhiannon’s past adorn the walls. There are pictures of her at union rallies and marches; a Daily Telegraph front page from 1998 (cover price, 80 cents) where she is quoted as a spokesperson for a group of protesters who climbed a crane; stickers and slogans and posters from over the years which paint a picture of the Greens’ path from a minor fringe party not that long ago to a true third political force in Australia. A former member of the Socialist Party of Australia, she entered politics after raising three kids and spending a life rallying around causes, from the anti-apartheid and anti-Vietnam War fights to environmentalism, civil rights, democracy and animal rights. Rhiannon has been a Green since the 1990s, first sitting in NSW state parliament from 1999, and entering the federal Senate in 2010.

Strangely missing from the walls: pictures from a 1977 visit to Moscow at the head of the Socialist Party of Australia delegation, on Leonid Brezhnev’s invitation. The Socialist Party sounds quite innocuous, almost like some cuddly Nordic social democrat outfit. In case Josh doesn’t know, they broke away group from the Communist Party of Australia because the Communist Party went soft and condemned the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The Socialist were pro-Moscow hardliners and stayed so until the end. Rhiannon herself was editing their newsletter “Survey” – or in her words “assisted with it to some extent” – until 1990. So when Josh writes that one of causes she has spent her life rallying around was “democracy”, what he really means is a “totalitarian dictatorship that murdered some 30 million of its own people and imprisoned half of Europe for half a century”. I know, semantics…

Listen, I’m not bitter or vindictive. Everyone’s got right to some youthful indiscretions, though in Rhiannon’s case the youthful indiscretions lasted until she was 39. Lots of good people once flirted with communism. Lots of good people who once flirted with communism eventually realised their mistake, regretted it, acknowledge it, and repented for it politically. Rhiannon never did – if you like your blood boiling and your bile rising you can read her pathetic-self apologia from a few years ago (“As support for the Greens increases, inevitably so do the attacks on the Greens and on individuals within the party. As one of the public faces of the Greens, I have been in the firing line”, “Like so many of their generation who joined the Communist Party my Mum and Dad worked hard for a more just and peaceful society”, “This current round of attacks [against me] is reminiscent of Cold War political activities”, etc.).

My point is this: Rhiannon is a joke, albeit an unfunny one. She got the biggest political – and moral – question of the 20th century wrong, and still doesn’t give a shit about it. To treat her seriously and pretend she’s got any credibility -  on any issue at all – is a crime against human decency and common sense.

When Josh gives Rhiannon a lift to her office

What would have been an eight-minute train ride becomes a 30-minute crawl through morning peak hour traffic.

“This is the problem with capitalism,” Rhiannon muses from the front seat of my cluttered car…

You know what, Lee? When I was growing up in Poland in the 1970s and 80s, under communism and under the Soviet occupation that you both so cheerfully supported, we would have liked having some traffic. It would have meant people having cars, and perhaps, by extension, not having to queue to buy toilet paper. We also would have liked having some elections, to go with traffic. I know, Second World problems!























You know what else kills? Communism.