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:


Inequality is Inefficient

2nd March 2017

Over the past few decades inequality in the UK has grown considerably, by whatever measure you choose. After World War II, at the birth of the welfare state, inequality was at a very low level. Over time we've come to…

Strangers in Alien Lands

20th February 2017

This poem was written as a contribution to Sheffield's Poetry-athon on 20th February 2017, a celebration of the contribution of migrants to our communities. You can read all the poems contributed…

Equality and the Market

26th January 2017

I like and loathe Twitter; it draws you into debates with all sorts of interesting people and challenges you to make your point as sharply as possible. But it is also frustrating when something seems really obvious,…

Living in the Ghetto

18th January 2017

I was recently invited to speak to a room of commissioners for services for people with learning disabilities in England about progress on de-institutionalisation. This is a pretty rare event for me these days and…

Can Socialism Reinvent Itself for the 21st Century?

15th December 2016

I am a proud member of the Socialist Health Association. I feel strongly that decent healthcare is a basic human right and that nobody should be deprived of it because of poverty, nor should the wealthy be able to buy…

On The Desire For Citizenship

21st November 2016

What connectsThe child abandoned by his mother,The mother beaten by her man,The wounded soldier, andThe fleeing refugee? Love,Love certainly is needed.But love alone,Or love unguided,May fail to hit the…

Why We Are Launching Citizen Network

21st November 2016

Hütia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea te kömako e kö?Kï mai ki a au, 'He aha te mea nui i te ao?' Māku e kï atu, 'He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata'. If the heart of the flax is pulled out, where will the kömako…

Is a Pro-Community Welfare State Possible?

11th November 2016

In the space of a few days I’ve been lucky enough to be part of two workshops where we explored the question of how to narrow the gap between public services (the official welfare state) and the community. Each event…

Why Socrates Would Vote for Corbyn

15th August 2016

I was reading Plato's Gorgias recently and I was struck by how close this two and half thousand year old discussion was to the debate currently going on within the Labour Party. In brief, I think it is clear that…

Gangster Economics

8th August 2016

Economics emerged as a moral science, an attempt to understand how to advance justice and the wellbeing of all. The word comes from the combination of two important Greek words: Oikos - which means family,…

Confusopoly: Lessons for Social Change

3rd August 2016

I came across, thanks to Samantha Connor, a beautiful new word the other day - confusopoly. After some searching around the internet I think I found the source of the word to be Scott Adams, the comic genius…

From Cameron to May - Thoughts on the Invisibility of Justice

19th July 2016

As we change our Prime Minister I’m wondering what we’ve learned about the battle for justice in the last six years. While I doubt we can expect a significant shift in policy, we must certainly take a fresh look at…

Two Conflicting Forms of Neoliberalism

8th May 2016

Neoliberalism has - I think - two main contrary forms. Often the thinkers who are cited as neoliberals are philosophers like Nozick, who argued for the minimal state and who took as the primary problem to be solved the…

Why Is It So Hard? It's Time for Action

4th May 2016

Last year I was lucky enough to attend a ceremony in London where Jean Vanier received the Templeton Prize. Vanier (the founder of L’Arche and many other great initiatives) said to the assembled…

Words are Like Maps

3rd May 2016

Words are like maps. Their meaning shifts as our we find our own position upon the map, as we identify the journey we've travelled and our plans for future travels. We may use the same map, but in radically different…

10 Things I Love About Finland

29th March 2016

I was lucky enough to be invited by my friends at KVPS to live and work in Tampere, Finland for the last 10 weeks. It has been a wonderful experience, made even better by the fact that I was able to go with my wife, Nicola.…

Questions about Disability Cuts

21st March 2016

I was recently asked by the Almeida Theatre company to answer a few questions about myself and my view of the government's welfare reform programme. Could you tell us a little about yourself and the job you…

Czars, Commissioners or Just Us?

7th March 2016

For readers outside the UK I must do some scene-setting. In 2011 the television documentary programme Panorama did an exposé on the crimes committed against people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne…

Anaxaphobia or Who Will Lead?

29th February 2016

Together we sat. We talked about the world's problems, its injustices, the power of evil and all that is wrong and unbalanced. Then we talked some more. We imagined ways that these problems could be solved,…

Further Apologies for the Complex RAS

8th December 2015

This is a copy of a recent letter I wrote on the topic of the RAS or Resource Allocation System in social care. Dear John I have written this note to you so that you can share it with others if you think it’s…

In Praise of Doubt by Bertolt Brecht

26th November 2015

My thanks to the wonderful Charlie Barker-Gavigan for sharing this poem with me. A wonderful discovery. Praised be doubt! I advise you to greetCheerfully and with respect the manWho tests your word like a bad…

Does the Sound of the Crash Exist?

30th October 2015

There is a very famous philosophical puzzle which asks: "When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?"Charles Riborg Mann & George Ransom Twiss. I had…

Customers or Citizens

5th October 2015

I put up this little item on Facebook recently and it seemed to strike a chord with lots of people. So I thought I'd share it here. The other day I received an email asking me to answer some questions about leadership…

We're Getting Older - Don't Panic, Don't Panic!!

25th September 2015

Some days seem to have a curious symmetry to them, and this week I have had one of those days. It began in the heart of the Whitehall and it ended in a community radio station in East London; but the theme at the heart of the…