Roddy Slorach

Be more specific

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Bob Fotheringham’s piece (Scottish front, June SR) has been largely vindicated by the election results. He was right that their record in office would damage the SNP, and also that the Tories would be the main beneficiaries.

The big surprise was that Labour also made significant gains at the SNP’s expense. Bob is right to say that Labour’s manifesto, “way to the left of anything being considered by the SNP” (with the important exception of Trident), resonated in Scotland.

Elwan

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This album expresses beautifully the longing of Tuareg nomads in exile whose Saharan homeland has been the site of successive wars. The Islamist militias who took over Northern Mali in late 2012 denounced Tinariwen’s music and even kidnapped one of their members. Several of the band participated in previous Tuareg rebellions, meeting for the first time in a military training camp before they swapped their machine guns for guitars.

Users and providers unite

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Socialist Review has promoted an important debate on mental health issues in the last few months, with a diversity of views addressing a complex subject. The last contribution from Susan Rosenthal (“Marxism and Psychology”, February SR), however, has little regard for complexity. It is hard to take seriously dismissive comments such as, “Freudianism…reduces the mind to the genitals.”

Emerging from the margins

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In his new book Roddy Slorach describes disability as "a very capitalist condition". He spoke to Socialist Review about myths and movements.

Why did you want to write a book on Marxism and disability?

First, the resurgence of interest in disability politics because of the Tories’ attack on disabled people and their rights and benefits, and the emergence of organisations like Disabled People Against Cuts.

The Tribe

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The Tribe is an inventive and uncompromising film about a group of teenagers at a residential deaf school in Ukraine. There’s no spoken dialogue, translation or voiceover. The action takes place mainly in the school itself — a bleak and dilapidated institution with peeling walls and starkly lit long corridors. After new arrival Sergey’s initiation into school rituals, he is quickly co-opted into its dominant gang. They use charity goods, donated then sold to finance the school, as a front for robbery.

From the darkness on all sides

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War trauma has been suffered by soldiers for centuries, but it took on a whole new scale during the industrialised slaughter of the First World War. Roddy Slorach exposes the callous treatment of sufferers at the hands of their "superiors".

The Great War represented industrial warfare on a previously unimaginable scale. When the fighting finally ended, 20 million soldiers and civilians were dead. More than half of the 3 million British troops who fought were deafened, blinded, lost limbs or were badly disfigured. It was “shell shock”, however, affecting much smaller numbers of troops, which became the signature injury of the war. How did this vague and inaccurate term for war trauma come to achieve such iconic status?

Part of the movement but independent too

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Last month's SR featured a really useful and timely article by Ellen Clifford highlighting the re-emergence of disability activism. Ellen emphasised the differences between much of the current disability movement and its predecessor of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) and Black Triangle have indeed taken an inclusive and grass roots based approach in contrast to many other past and present disability organisations.

Which Paralympian legacy?

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The Paralympics were, it is universally agreed, the most successful yet. All the venues sold out, and Channel 4's coverage reached just shy of 40 million people.

Almost eight million viewers in the UK watched the closing ceremony.

Organisers hailed "the seismic effect in shifting public attitudes" to disability sports, claiming the games had changed public perception of disabled people forever. A poll taken immediately afterwards found that eight out of ten British adults thought that Paralympics 2012 had had a positive impact on the way disabled people were viewed by the public.

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