Monday, December 28, 2009

Class of Sunny: digging a deeper hole

As usual, Sunny Hundal breaks blogging conventions (by using my real name, not my blogging identity) when attempting to reply to my earlier post.

Of course, because he doesn't want his Liberal Conspiracy buddies—most of whom are not as stupid or bigoted as himself—to realise what a tit he has made of himself, Sunny uses his race issues vehicle, Pickled Politics, to reply to my argument.
Cxxxx Mxxxxxx: raising taxes is like kicking Pakis!!

In a bid to try to gain credence for his argument, Sunny appeals to his race-based prejudices, attempting to paint me as denigrating racism. This is, of course, an ad hominem by inference and it is specifically designed to separate people into groups: there are those who think virtuously, like Sunny, and those who might support my position—who are now, effectively, designated closet racists.

In this very way, he actually proves the point that I was making about how the Left like to label people, separate them and set them at each others' throats.

I could stop there, but I won't.
There’s a hilariously dumb-headed post at Devil’s Kitchen called ‘Sunny Hundal: condoning class war. Would he be so keen on a race war?‘ – which basically boils down to libertarian idiot Cxxxx Mxxxxxx equating raising taxes on rich people to kicking the crap out of someone for being black or white.

Of course, this is not what I was saying at all. I was pointing out that, in fact, class is nothing to do with me personally, it is to do with my parents—as, in fact, is race.

I was certainly not equating "raising taxes on rich people to kicking the crap out of someone for being black or white": what I was saying was that targeting people because of what their parents are (or, more generally, because of traits that an individual cannot change) is wrong—in all cases, whether that be "class" or "race".
OK. So, my class must be defined by my parents; Sunny’s race is defined by his parents. I can no more help the income of my parents than Sunny can affect the race of his.

So, there is an equivalence: yes?

Where do you even start with such stupidity?

Heaven knows, Sunny: but I expect you'll tell us.
I suppose the concept of progressive taxation – advanced by Adam Smith himself – must be a form of discrimination against rich people because they can’t help their income. Perhaps they should complain to EHRC! Rights for rich people! Stop the discrimination!

Ah—the appeal to authority! Always a sign of someone losing an argument. To be honest, since I haven't read Smith, I have no idea what he said about progressive taxation—and I don't really care. I like to read around subjects and make up my own mind, personally, rather than parrot the opinions of others.

Of course, "the concept of progressive taxation" is "a form of discrimination against rich people": the concept of progressive taxation is that rich people should pay progrssively more, as a percentage of their income, than poor people. Whichever way you slice it, that is discrimination against rich people.

Now, many people would argue that taxing the rich more (because they need a lower proportion of their income to survive) is a good and necessary thing, and that using that money to boost the lifestyles of the poor is a virtuous thing to do. Fair enough, but that is a complicated argument and not for the here and now.

So let us leave that aside and remind ourselves of what was actually said—because I certainly didn't say that "the concept of progressive taxation" was "a form of discrimination against rich people". Because, you see, that was never mentioned in Sunny's post.

What Sunny's post was entitled was Long Live The Class War Strategy. It wasn't Long Live The Progressive Taxation On Rich People Strategy; nor was it Long Live The War On The Rich Strategy: no—it was Long Live The Class War Strategy.

The word "class" spans an awful lot more of the population than the word "rich"; it also encompasses those who are not necessarily rich, but who might be designated as undesirables according to some nebulous criteria as defined by the Labour Party—or Sunny, of course.

Oh! And here is Sunny's definition... [Emphasis mine.]
I actually pointed out what Class War strategy meant not long ago here:
The ‘class war’ is narrowly defined as being about bankers’ bonuses and higher taxes. Labour needs to expand this to include: Tories increasing IHT, deploring fairer taxes on the super-rich, their privileged backgrounds, the £250,000 “chicken-feed”, MPs “forced to live on rations”, Cameron not knowing how many houses he owned. In fact top Tory gaffes reek of how out of touch they are. Re-framing the debate would allow them to talk about wider issues than just bankers’ bonuses.

There's the phrase—"their privileged backgrounds"... It's hidden in the paragraph quite innocuously, but is does, as Sunny says, allow Labour to talk about "wider issues". Much, much wider issues.

Let us take your humble Devil, for instance: I went to Eton and had what many would call a privileged background. But now that I am an adult and standing on my own feet, I earn about the median wage.

Which class should I be in? Am I with the workers—or am I one of those evil people with a "privileged background"? If you are going to attack me for having a "privileged background" then you are not attacking what I am, but what my parents are.

And, as I have already pointed out, I can no more help that my parents are well-off than Sunny can help that his parents are Indian.
I also pointed out that rather being seen as against aspiration, New Labour should re-frame the debate as being for the deserving rich and hard-working small businesses rather than fat-cat bankers who get big bonuses for screwing up the economy.

Well, sure: absolutely. But this isn't what Sunny meant, I suspect, when he wrote Long Live The Class War Strategy. After all, he has just said that he wants Labour to focus on not "just bankers' bonuses", but on "wider issues".

Personally, as someone who has always worked in small businesses (and who was against the bank bail-outs), I am very much in favour of Labour supporting "hard-working small businesses": if you are too, Sunny, can I take it that you totally disagree with putting employers' and employees' National Insurance up by another 0.5% as Labour will do in April?

I am rather less certain about Sunny's support for "the deserving rich": who, precisely, will determine if they are "deserving"?

Is a Lottery winner "deserving", Sunny?

Is a man like Sir Alan Sugar—who has, in my opinion, spent his life selling tat to the gullible—"deserving"?

I don't think either of them are "deserving", as such—although Alan Sugar has worked harder for his money—but then I am not proposing to take away their money.

How do you define "deserving", Sunny?

I'm not just being snippy here: it's a pretty fundamental point. If you are going to declare a "class war" then you need to define "class". If you are going to declare a "war on the undeserving rich" then you need to define who is "undeserving" because otherwise you might start taking the money of the "deserving" rich.

Who decides who is "deserving"? How is this to be measured—by the quality of the goods they produce, by how hard they have worked, by whether their children are suitable for society, by whether you personally like them?

Surely anyone can see that this is a very slippery slope. But then, as I said, Sunny is after personal power: he would like nothing better to be the one who decides who is deserving and who isn't.

And Sunny would also love to be the person who defines who is one of the Desirables, class-wise, and who is Undesirable. Given how riled he gets when I insult him, your humble Devil would, no doubt, be on the Undesirables list. But then that is the danger of selecting human beings by applying arbitrary criteria.

The same would not apply here: for all that I loathe Sunny's politics and despise him as a human being, I would never advocate that he be treated differently to anyone else. And I certainly do not condone racism—as Sunny so clearly implies.

And so we come full circle, and Sunny's designation of undesirables. I asked if Sunny would condone a race war in the same way as he cheered on a class war because class often has little to do with individuals, and everything to do with their upbringing.

Had Sunny entitled his piece "Long Live The War On The Rich Strategy" I would still have disagreed with him—but I would have done so in entirely different terms. But he didn't.

And his response was to imply that I'm a racist and to do so not at the original forum, but on his race-issues vehicle. A response which was deliberately calculated, as I said, to create a false dichotomy between racists and non-racists—and not between those who drew an equivalence between traits passed down to you over which you yourself have no control.

Sunny has then tried to reframe the argument, attempting to insist that by "class" he meant "undeserving rich". Well, either he did and he's a very sloppy writer, or he didn't and tried to claim a dishonest equivalence between said undeserving rich and all those whom Sunny considers to be of a certain, undesirable class.

Either way, Sunny, it doesn't look good.

UPDATE: a commenter over at Pickled Politics posts the following:
..well DK (Mounsey) is funny, energetic and makes a strong argument, but you, Sunny, are gloomy, boring and cliched…take your pick!

In reply to which Sunny—who claims, believe it or not, to be an adult—brings out this classic playground witticism.
hey, I’d take boring than being so ugly any day!

Well, that's me told, eh? Mind you, that's Sunny making personal judgements again—would you like him to be sitting in judgement over you?

It's worth pointing out, by the way, that Sunny Hundal is a big campaigner against racism—in other words, he campaigns against people being treated differently simply on their appearance. As such, I find it highly amusing that Sunny should attempt to denigrate my arguments on the basis of my "so ugly" appearance. I wonder if Sunny would tax ugly people more...?

Fucking hellski.

UPDATE 2: Sunny replies to one or two select points over at Pickled Politics.
Secondly, Pickled Politics isn’t my “race based vehicle” – it’s where I write about identity politics. It’s a place where we consistently condemn racism.

My reply to this point was as follows:
You can have a race-based vehicle (or an identity-based vehicle) and not condone racism. Pickled Politics is, as you say, “about identity politics”: it is about assigning identities to sections of society.

If, of course, you maintain that Pickled Politics is about negating such identities, it is somewhat hypocritical for you to paint others with such identities, e.g. being of a particular class.

It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

UPDATE 3: Sunny replies again...
People have multiple identities according to their backgrounds, religion, other habits (feminism, vegetarianism, libertarianism) – i.e. they ‘identify’ with certain subcultures or ideologies. This could even be people who are into goth culture or love rock music.

The problem is when people are solely judged by those identities and grouped together (as in, all ‘white people behave the same’, ‘all Jews are the same’) or only seen through the prism of that one identity (assuming all Muslims behave the same), or discriminate against someone because of their race, sex, disability etc.

Do you get it now? That’s racism? Simply talking about the BNP or Asian history doesn’t make me any more history than for you to talk about British history means you’re a white supremacist.

Sunny actually has a point here, and I can see what he is getting at. However, in order to discuss identities, you need to label people with those identities—regardless of whether they accept that identity or not—which is where I think we came in...

You see, Sunny seems to assume that I am using racist in terms of "prejudice (negative) based on race" when, in fact, I am using it in the sense of "discrimination (neither negative nor positive: simply descriptive) based on race".

"Race" is, as Sunny would put it, simply another "identity": however, to write about people in terms of their racial identity is to discriminate in terms of race; just as writing about people in terms of their political identity is to discriminate in terms of politics.

In this post, Sunny explains why identity politics interests him and, again, he has a point (or several). But the perpetuation of identity politics is not a good thing.

This is why I'm a libertarian: I don't believe in basing political decisions—which are, ultimately, incorporated as legal instruments—on people's identities. I believe that everyone should be equal under the law and you cannot do that when you are making law based on religion, race, class, etc.

42 comments:

Middle Seaxe said...

The phrase "reductio ad Hitlerum" springs to mind.

And how quickly he was reduced to it!

Oh dear. He he he!

Sunny said...

As such, I find it highly amusing that Sunny should attempt to denigrate my arguments on the basis of my "so ugly" appearance. I wonder if Sunny would tax ugly people more...?

awwww... I didn't realise you were such a sensitive soul Mounsey.

Sunny has then tried to reframe the argument, attempting to insist that by "class" he meant "undeserving rich". Well, either he did and he's a very sloppy writer

Actually I did it ages ago - you just have trouble reading. You prefer ejaculating over your own blog in a string of curse words... and are now trying cover up your mistakes.

Either way, it doesn't bother me.

Martin said...

It bothers you enough to comment, though....

James D said...

Sunny is no more than an internet troll. He posts utter garbage with a thin veneer of plausibility. It's very interesting that both you and Tom Harris have disagreed with this plonker over the last couple of days. Perhaps in the New Year the political blogosphere, both left and right, could conspire to stop paying attention to his Illiberal Misnomer nonsense.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Sunny,

"Actually I did it ages ago - you just have trouble reading. You prefer ejaculating over your own blog in a string of curse words... and are now trying cover up your mistakes."

I know that this might seem incredible to you, but I don't actually read most of what you write. And since you hadn't linked to that definition in your post, I am not quite sure how I was supposed to know...? Telepathy? Intuition?

Anyway, I read your definition and asked some pretty basic questions which you have, as usual, totally failed to answer.

Pathetic, Hundal: pathetic.

DK

Pavlov's Cat said...

"Yes, I am a sloppy writer, but at least I don't use naughty words!"

Massive headdesk at all of Sunny's ad hominem, playground retorts. Well done on consistently and comprehensively destroying him, DK, I wouldn't expect anything less from a blogger of your calibre.

I think I'm going to need a new desk.

Sunny said...

If you ask nicely Chris - I'm happy to answer / explain whatever people ask of me. That, however, has totally evaded you from day one. So don't blame me if you only get abuse in return.

I've answered most of your questions on the other thread now.

Anonymous said...

Tempted to agree with James D here. These days he's not really worth the attention you're giving him - you may as well debate the speaking clock (if it's still going), you'll get more sense out of it.

Sunny said...

however, to write about people in terms of their racial identity is to discriminate in terms of race;

No it's not. Describing someone as a 'smoker' doesn't mean you're discriminating against them. In the same way it's perfectly possible (though much of the right doesn't manage it) to talk about immigration and refer to people's legal status and background without discriminating against them.

Actually arguing for policies that discriminate, being derogatory towards a group would be racist or discriminatory.

I could talk about goths as a group and talk about their subculture and identity without discriminating against them. However if I said all goths were idiots then you could accuse me of prejudice.

just as writing about people in terms of their political identity is to discriminate in terms of politics.

And this is where I believe you fall down because you routinely generalise about lefties (assuming they're all socialists for a start) and being derogatory towards them. By your own definition writing about socialism or socialists means you're being discriminatory against them. Whereas I wouldn't have a problem unless you advocated a policy of lining up all socialists and shooting them (though I bet you'd do that too)

Hope that makes my position clearer.

Optimistic Cynic said...

"hey, I’d take boring than being so ugly any day!"

Yeah... about that, Sunny...

Devil's Kitchen said...

Sunny,

"No it's not. Describing someone as a 'smoker' doesn't mean you're discriminating against them."

Yes, I know: that was my point. I didn't say "discriminate against": I said "discriminate in terms of...".

This is a semantic point, not a philosophical one.

DK

ma said...

(New reader here. Compelling post)

I, for one, think that class in an interesting subcategory about which to argue as people of different races can certainly belong to a "privileged" class for sure. I would argue that I'm very liberal compared to a great deal of your readers, but I would say that as long as the discourse remains less personal, discussions about class and tax and race and all sorts of issues can be extremely productive.

You seem to hold up your end of the bargain quite well.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Thank you, ma: there is a rather more edifying debate on class over here...

DK

Mr Eugenides said...

In fairness, DK, Sunny's right about one thing: you are pretty ugly...

Devil's Kitchen said...

Mr E,

That wasn't what you said after that fifth pint...

DK

Guido Fawkes said...

You're all racist, innit.

mister_choos said...

It's quite simple DK

Deserving rich = Labour Party donor.

Undeserving rich = non-Labour Party donor

Kevin Monk said...

This is why I'm a libertarian: I don't believe in basing political decisions—which are, ultimately, incorporated as legal instruments—on people's identities. I believe that everyone should be equal under the law and you cannot do that when you are making law based on religion, race, class, etc.

Hear!, Hear!

Jolly good. Another glass of sherry, old chap?

JuliaM said...

"Sunny is no more than an internet troll. "

Actually, most of the actual internet trolls are, on a few occasions, funny. And sometimes right.

Sunny, to the best of my knowledge, has never been either...

LH said...

Given that Sunny often refers to his Indian heritage I think he needs to consider how he uses the word "Paki". He clearly is not a "Paki" as neither he or his parents are from Pakistan. As I understand it Sunny was born to Sikh parents. There has been a certain amount of enmity between Sikh and Pakistani muslim communities in this country: makes me wonder about Sunny's motivations.

Maybe Sunny thinks he can play on the ignorance of his guilt ridden white readers by using the word "Paki".

Barnacle Bill said...

Surely Sunny's arguments fail as soon as you label someone/something?
It immediately in the eye of the namer becomes that identity and by association with anyone else that comes into contact with the namer.
It's like letting the cat out of the bag, no amount of debating is going to put it back in.

Elby The Beserk said...

Sunny has the supreme arrogance of the terminally self-righteous, the for ever holier than thou.

Revolting.

John said...

Sunny,

As a Half-Indian, Quarter-Austrian Jew, Quarter British person it seems that I get to employ my race deck against your race card.

Clearly nothing in what DK said was racist and at your core I think you know it. If you have to be such a twat then please do so without dragging the rest of us "ethnic" people down with you, people of your ilk have done more to damage race relations than any of the supposed "racists" that you squeal about daily.

(I was also privately educated and will not be voting for the Labour party at this or any future election.)

Alan Douglas said...

Is it too simplistic to define Sunny's "undeserving rich" as anyone who has money ? Rather like G Brown - "You are undeserving and therefore I will tax you until you become deserving".

Alan Douglas

LH said...

Seems to me that everything Sunny does is based on the politics of identity; that's his schtick. I suppose Labour is perfect for him as it's full or professional northerners and professional working class folk like Prescott. Truth is Labour has always wanted the working class to stay in its place (think of Sidney and Beatrice Webb and their eugenicist mates), doff its cap and take state handouts. Sunny uses words like "Paki" in the same way: to perpetuate the divisions between people.

Sunny and his talk of the deserving really does bring to mind the language of Sidney (Clause 4) Webb:

“With regard to certain sections of the population [the “unemployable”], this unemployment is not a mark of social disease, but actually of social health.” “Of all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites, the most ruinous to the community is to allow them to unre- strainedly compete as wage earners.”

Half The Story said...

It like watching Pacman vs Rickey Hatton

Wat Dabney said...

It is Hayek's crucial observation that it is equality before the law that we should seek to attain, in the full knowledge that it will inevitably lead to material inequality.

Equality of the general rules of law and conduct, however, is the only kind of equality conducive to liberty and the only equality which we can secure without destroying liberty…People are different; if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either the one of the other, but not both at the same time. The equality before the law which freedom requires leads to material inequality.

Gareth said...

"I'm not just being snippy here: it's a pretty fundamental point. If you are going to declare a "class war" then you need to define "class". If you are going to declare a "war on the undeserving rich" then you need to define who is "undeserving" because otherwise you might start taking the money of the "deserving" rich."

Not so DK.

Declare a war on either without defining who is the target then throw in a few arbitrary example-making incidents and you get everyone watching their step. That is the creed of socialism. The minute you define your target people simply set about not becoming that target - look at the way businesses are getting around bonus bashing legislation.

Tim Worstall has spent many a blogpost discussing Richard Murphy's insistance that tax law should be as cloudy as possible so people just pay whatever the Tax Man says.

We have had the same with the vast gobs of legislation thrown at us, often due to prodding from ACPO. The Police have never had so much authority over us but we do not know clearly what is and isn't illegal any more. They can spout a raft of laws that may or may not actually apply just to get us to bugger off. Case in point: photographers being arrested without justification.


The moment *we* know where we stand is the moment *we* can take control of our lives rather than having to defer to authority.

Tim Worstall said...

Smith on taxation: You can certainly find support there for progressive taxation: roughly, not unreasonable that the rich should contribute not just in proportion to their income but more than their proportion.

You can also find support for people only being taxed on their domestic income....should be taxed on that income they make with the protection of the State.

So non-doms are just fine according to Smith....:-)

JuliaM said...

"The Police have never had so much authority over us but we do not know clearly what is and isn't illegal any more."

And sometimes, it doesn't even matter if they aren't illegal...

DJ said...

The other thing is that race-hustling nogoodniks like the Hudcase has built their reputations on blathering about supa-sekret 'code words' in everything the right says, so when the right talks about 'school vouchers', they actually mean 'cleansing the Earth of the bacillus of International Jewry'.

Against all that, there's no way we should let him get away with using slippery terms like claiming 'class war' just means he's against certain bankers, even while slipping in phrases about people with 'privileged backgrounds'.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"you need to define who is "undeserving" because otherwise you might start taking the money of the "deserving" rich."

That's assuming Labour actually care about the distinction.

Mike Power said...

"Curse words"? Oooh, I say, missus.

Can this the same Sunny who told me to "FUCK OFF!" in a recent comment on LibCon.

Sunny is a twat, a hypocrite and a dope. If he didn't exist we'd have to invent him.

The Boiling Frog said...

hey, I’d take boring than being so ugly any day!

So says 'David Beckham lookalike' Sunny Hundal.

OldSlaughter said...

This is a car crash mixed with a gang rape.

There is direct proportionality between the amount Sunny writes and how stupid he looks.

"Actually arguing for policies that discriminate, being derogatory towards a group would be racist or discriminatory."

So any discrimination of something is negative? Do you even understand the words at the core of your enterprise?

"Hope that makes my position clearer."

Yes it does. Clearly wrong.
This has been a most enjoyable thread.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth I think the Devil's Kitchen is onto a winner here.

Class War IS about assigning behavioural characteristics to a group of people on the basis of who their parents are - just like racism.

The "rich" defence cited by Sunny is a non-starter. Wealth varies. Class does not. You can't modify where you went to school.

Class War and Race War also have similar motives - to find a hate group to abuse in order to get a cheap thrill.

Progressive taxation has zip all to do with this debate.

DK - you have won this debate. Sunny looks like an abusive, unpleasant chap. And he's dead wrong about this subject (hence his lame defence tactics). Hey, I'm not a regular reader of either blog - just an outsider, saying how I see it.

LH said...

Thing is Libertarians accept there are problems brought about by class inequality. In fact Libertarians probably "got" class before anyone else. Libertarians however can see the evidence that before their own eyes: poverty, inequality and social division is not solved by coercion and yet further division along class lines; but by voluntary cooperation between free people. Libertarians consistently oppose war, racism and immigration control, more than can be said for Labour.

_Felix said...

The undeserving rich, who should be taxed, could presumably be selected in the same way as the deserving projects that tax money is spent on, i.e. by a central authority and incorrectly.

BTW not sure what "attempting to paint me as denigrating racism" meant. I would have thought you do denigrate racism. Not sure what Sunny's "doesn’t make me any more history" meant, either.

Sam Duncan said...

God, Sunny's a twat.

Great piece, DK. It articulates perfectly something I've felt instinctively ever since I first heard of “class”; ie, that it's a load of old cock. Furthermore, it's a load of old cock that the “left” needs as its raison d'etre; the last thing they want is an end to class distinction.

My father is the son of a works clerk, the grandson of a farm labourer. He became a lawyer. My mother is the daughter of a turner in the piston shop of the biggest locomotive works in the world. She worked as a typist until she married. My uncle is a motor mechanic, who is now better off financially than my parents, largely because they sent me to an independent school. I am unemployed, and have been for some time.

Class war? I don't even know what side I'm on.

Letters From A Tory said...

A brutal demolition of a brutally stupid blogpost from Sunny.

Hat-tip to DK.

Foxy Brown said...

Sunny get a proper job.

Pete Wass said...

Regarding his playground comment, he is well and truly buggered, being both more boring than you and uglier.