ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Crime and Punishment in Czechoslovakia

Crime and Punishment in Czechoslovakia GPD WE did not realise that we would be required to return to Jazzova Secse so soon. Authorities in Prague seem determined to gain as much international notoriety as possible. The president and the general secretary of the jazz section were sentenced to imprisonment on March 11. The judgment on them said the work of the jazz section had considerable artistic value; what the Prague court objected to was that its activities were irregular and illegal. The section was ordered to be closed down in 1984. It did not. It continued to operate evidently in defiance of the legal order. The trial was postponed several times. Finally it took place on March 10 and 11. The defendants claimed that they were doing a 'humanitarian' service to their country. The state said that 'humanitarian' or otherwise, any service has to be legal and regular which the service rendered by the jazz section was not so. The closure followed when Karel SrP and Vladimir Kouril the chairman and the secretary respectively of the jazz section did not heed the warning of the authorities in Prague, went ahead and tried them. There was no question of the court accepting the defence of not-guilty for SrP and Kouril. A quarter century after Stalin's death, the arts are still taken to be a rather powerful force in eastern European societies. The last time when we referred to the jazz section we had cited a line or two of the section's manifesto (or from the several statements of its perspective on its own activities). Stalin took art seriously and went at everyone who, he and his bureaucracy thought was producing counter-revolutionary or reactionary or degenerate art. it appears that it is still the dominant view in eastern Lurope. liven the jazz section had rather grand eloquent ideas about what it was trying to do. SrP in his defence in the court talked of his section rendering 'humanitarian' service to his country. Why the arts are burdened with such heavy responsibilities is difficult to understand.

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