Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

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Simon is a philosopher and activist. He is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and Secretary to Citizen Network: a global cooperative to achieve a world where everyone matters.

Essays, thoughts, poems, prayers and quotes:


The Gift of Equality

4th July 2011

He who treat as equals those who are far below him in human strength really makes them a gift of the quality of human beings, of which fate had deprived them. As far as it is possible for a creature, he reproduces the…

Democratic Welfare

4th July 2011

The struggle for democracy offers us a parallel to the struggle for decent welfare reform. Without this struggle political systems tend to autocracy and elitism.Welfare reform does not mean unfair cuts or…

Four Kinds of Designer

4th July 2011

There are four kinds of designer or innovator, each with their own style. No style is right; each has its merits and its limitations:Radical design - this is direct and active - it tries to identify a core functional…

Irony of Education

4th July 2011

The irony of education is that while as a process it demands all the plurality and innovation required in any attempt to reach the most exalted outcome, there is no way that outcome can be defined accept by reference to…

Educational Totalitarianism

4th July 2011

Article 26 of the Declaration of Human Rights(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.…

Crazy Systems

4th July 2011

A crazy system is one that defeats the purpose it was set up to achieve:When a system of income security discourages the poor from earning or saving money - this is crazinessWhen families can only get support when they…

When Dawn has Arrived

4th July 2011

A rabbi asked his students how they could tell when the dawn had come and morning prayers could be said. One student responded by saying, “When you can see the sheep on the hill.” Another suggested that…

Giving as God has Given

4th July 2011

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. On the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no…

The Gift of Judgement

4th July 2011

Arendt accepts from Kant that judgement emerges as a “peculiar talent which can be practised only and cannot be taught” because “judgement deals with particulars, and when the thinking ego moving among…

Justice and Mercy

4th July 2011

"Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha said: Once when I entered into the innermost part [of the sanctuary] to offer incense I saw Akhateriel Yah,  [trans. the crown of God] seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to…

The Quality of Mercy

4th July 2011

"Rabbi Berekhiah said: When the Holy One was almost about to create Adam, he saw both the righteous and the wicked who were to issue from him. So He said: If I create him, wicked men will issue from; if I do not create him…

Why God Does Not Reveal Himself

4th July 2011

Hadrian Caesar asked Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah, “Does the world have a master?”Rabbi  Joshua: “Can you possibly suppose that the world is ownerless?” Hadrian: “And who created heaven and…

Everyone has Their Use

4th July 2011

The lame rides a horsethe maimed drives the herdthe deaf is brave in battle.A man is betterblind than buried.A dead man is deft at nothing.This poem comes from the Viking Havamal. It shows a recognition of the value of…

Dignity Comes First

4th July 2011

If you take a cloak from a neighbour as a pledge you must return it to him before sunset, for it is the only covering for his body and what else has to sleep in. If he shouts out to me I will hear him with mercy. Exodus…

The Citizenship Imperative

4th July 2011

If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would help an alien or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from…

True Leaders in History

4th July 2011

True leadersare hardly known to their followers.Next after them are the leaderspeople know and admire;after them, those they fear;after them, those they despise. To give no trustis to get no trust.When the…

Oppression as a Reproach to God

4th July 2011

He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.Proverbs, 14:31Why is it an insult to God to oppress the poor? It is because God made them and that if you try to justify…

Don't Take Advantage

4th July 2011

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee Proverbs, 23:10-11This is a powerful image of social justice.…

Designing from the Wrong End

4th July 2011

The Master said, 'To attack a task from the wrong end can do nothing but harm.' ConfuciusIt is easy to imagine change. It is easy to imagine you know what is wrong and what would be better. But getting there…

The Best Sort of Principle

4th July 2011

We see it, and to us it appears like principle, and the best sort of principle at that - the principle of allowing the people to do as they please with their own business.Abraham LincolnThis principle can be exploited…

The Poison of Power

4th July 2011

Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were able to acquire material power over others. But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is…

Education, Democracy and America

4th July 2011

In America, on the contrary, it may be said that the township was organised before the county, the county before the state, the state before the union... ...The law enters into a thousand social wants that even now…

The Kutuzov Strategy

4th July 2011

In War and Peace Tolstoy describes the subtle strategy of General Kutuzov who saves Russia from Napoleon’s attack. The central image of Kutuzov is of an old man surrounded by yapping and competing generals. While…

Adam Smith on Welfare Reform

28th June 2011

The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hands... and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour, is a plain…