Disability

The Body Extended: Sculpture and Prosthetics

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I wear prosthetics and I have never considered them to be sculpture or an object of art. My prosthetics aren’t quite me nor are they quite distinct from me. Are they the creation of Deborah the prosthetist, or are they now my creation, wearing the scratches and scuffs of my everyday use?

This exhibition appears to clearly place these prosthetics in the realm of the creator, whether this is by artist, sculptor, engineer, craftsman or doctor. This challenged me emotionally more than I expected, and probably affected my response.

We got IDS with bold action

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If the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party suggested that politics can be unpredictable, the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) in a self-proclaimed stand for disabled people proves it.

Watching the former secretary of state for work and pensions tell Andrew Marr that the cuts are “hurting the most vulnerable” and that welfare cuts “are going too far” was more than surreal. This from a man who has steadfastly lied and denied his way around the true impact of welfare reform since 2010.

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.

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.

Re-forging the disability movement

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The fightback against austerity is reshaping the disability movement in Britain.

Last month's Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) national conference was a chance to agree targets and strategies for campaigning over the next year, reflecting on wins such as the victory over Atos, and taking stock of the battles ahead as cuts bite deeper and conditions worsen. It was also a space to debate and shape the continuing development of the disabled people's rights movement which has dramatically grown, re-energised and progressed politically since the emergence of DPAC in 2010.

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.

Marxism and oppression

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Marxists are sometimes accussed of being dismissive of oppression, preferring to emphasise the importance of class. Sara Bennett explains why socialists argue for working class unity as the best way to combat, and ultimately abolish, all forms of oppression

Forty five years ago being gay in Britain was a criminal offence. Today there is a good chance we could see gay marriage legalised by the government before the end of its term in office. This is just one example of many huge strides forward we have achieved in the fight against oppression, whether of LGBT people, women, black people or other oppressed groups.

Work makes you free?

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"In our new welfare contract our message is simple. Do the right thing and we will back you all the way but fail to take responsibility and the free ride is over" - A New Welfare Contract, the Conservative Party (2010).

Just over 100 days in office and the brutality of the coalition government towards disabled people has been relentless. Much of the Tory welfare reform agenda is "a chronicle of a death foretold" but the speed of implementation and the scale of the proposed reforms have been breathtaking.

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