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...?
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.