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 Inquisition - A Truly Modern Institution

12th March 2014

The Inquisition was its own dominion of judgement, a state within a state, answerable to no one other than the Pope, the Crown and its own array of imposing bureaucratic regulations. As well as the inquisitors and…

What is Neoliberalism Good For?

12th March 2014

It would be fair to say that the world of politics seems to be dominated by an ideology that we in the UK call liberalism and which argues for the primacy of freedom and the pursuit of individual happiness. This is an…

Use and Abuse of Standards

21st February 2014

To have standards or regulations imposed upon us means we all cannot succeed; some will make it and some will fail. It is by the nature of such measures that they must divide us into sheep and goats. The only standards…

The Devolution of Blame

21st February 2014

Now I don't want to be misunderstood - I am not blaming Devolution, what I want to talk about is the opposite problem. Emilie Whitaker coined the term "blame devolution" to describe, I think, the way in which…

What Would Aristotle Make of Modern Britain?

15th February 2014

Aristotle famously divided the forms of government into three:Monarchy - rule by oneAristocracy - rule by the bestPolity - rule by the manyEach in turn can be corrupted into:Rule by a tyrant, who is concerned only…

Living Forever

15th February 2014

The patriarch Ching of Ch'i was with his companions on Mount Ox. As he looked northward out over his capital, tears rose in his eyes. "Such a splendid land," he said, "swarming, burgeoning; if only I didn't have to die…

Measurements

29th January 2014

There was a man of Cheng who was going to buy himself shoes. First he measured his foot; then he put the measurements away. When he got to the market he discovered that he had left them behind. After he found the shoes he…

The Emptiness Within

16th January 2014

The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain... a searching for something beyond what the world contains, something transfigured and infinite. The beatific vision - God. I do not find it, I do not think it…

Diverse People Need Diverse Communities

14th January 2014

Then he [Charles Martel] again: "Would man not be worse off Below if he were not a social being?" "Yes," I replied, "and here I need no proof." "And how could that be so, if men on earth Did not live diversely with…

The First Welfare State

12th January 2014

Moreover, philanthropy was an obligation too, since the word 'zedakah' meant both charity and righteousness. The Jewish welfare state in antiquity, the prototype of all others, was not voluntary; a man had to…

Do You Deserve Your Gifts?

29th November 2013

quis enim te discernit quid autem habes quod non accepisti si autem accepisti quid glorias quasi non acceperis Who made you special, who gave you your gifts? And if your gifts were given to you why do you…

We Fell Asleep

23rd November 2013

We fell asleep. We forgot that they don’t take care of us, we take care of each other. We forgot that it’s the rich who need the poor, not the poor who need the rich. We forgot that politicians work for us, we…

Beyond Rights - Citizenship in the Welfare State

20th November 2013

The [new 1834] Poor Law treated the claims of the poor, not as an integral part of the rights of the citizen, but as an alternative to them - as claims which could be met only if the claimants ceased to be citizens in any…

Modest Reasons for Hope

15th November 2013

Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed. There is no universal…

Making Citizenship Real

14th November 2013

Although we can call someone a citizen and say we wish to treat them as an equal it turns out that there are some very real things we need to do in order to make such a claim real. Stigma and pride take hold so easily, and so…

Spending is a Poor Proxy for Justice

11th November 2013

The welfare state needs defending - but we also need to rediscover what it is really for. Since its creation the major focus has been on its size - should we spend more on it or less on it. But this is the wrong…

How Do We Defend the Welfare State?

31st October 2013

The second principle is that organisation of social insurance should be treated as one part only of a comprehensive policy of social progress. Social insurance fully developed may provide income security; it is an…

The Welfare State and Citizenship in Political Theory

27th October 2013

We tend to assume that what we call the Left is broadly for the welfare state while what we call the Right is broadly against it. However the reality is more complex, in fact only a few extremist are exactly against the…

Citizenship as a Moral Ideal

25th October 2013

There are different ways of understanding the idea of citizenship. One of the most important distinctions is between those who think of citizenship as a status given to the individual by a community…

Simply an Unfortunate Human Being

23rd October 2013

Can you guess what I felt, Vityenka, once I was behind the barbed wire? I'd expected to feel horror. But just imagine - I actually felt relieved to be inside this cattle-pen. Don't think it's because I'm a born slave.…

The Blood Money of Charity or Why Entitlements Matter

7th October 2013

If the present order is taken for granted or assumed to be sacrosanct, charity from the more to the less fortunate would seem virtuous and commendable; to those for whom the order itself is suspect or worse, such…

Dog Fox Field

26th September 2013

These were no leaders, but they were firstinto the dark on Dog Fox Field:Anna who rocked her head, and Paulwho grew big and yet giggled small,Irma who looked Chinese, and Hanswho knew his world as a fox knows a…

Securing the Good

24th September 2013

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams Thanks to Henry Iles for sharing this lovely quote with me. Jane…

The Good Samaritan

19th September 2013

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He…