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Zones of Proletarian Development, Chapter 3, Part 3.

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

[The following is an excerpt from chapter 3, pp. 142-153 of, Zones of Proletarian Development, Mastaneh Shah-Shuja, OpenMute, 2008. In part 2, Shah-Shuja discussed the conflict between proletarian carnivalesque and Islamic spectacle within language. In part 3 she investigates the same conflict over our bodies.]


Iranian Football Riots as Bakhtinian Carnivalesque (Part 3)

3.1.3 Grotesque bodies and hysterical mobs

The Islamic Republic came to power with the unstated mandate of temporarily reversing capitalist development to its formal phase of domination, which entailed the extraction of absolute surplus value through ‘terroristic’ means. The formal phase is now complete and many in this society ache for transition to the real phase of domination, with its emphasis on relative surplus value extraction, Keynesian macroeconomics, or what is inaccurately termed a ‘consumption based economy’. Some hope that cultural openness will bring in its wake a respectful growth rate and economic diversification. The phrase ‘civil society’ is uttered frequently, sometimes as mantra, sometimes as a code for ‘liberalism’. What concerns us here is the strategy of excess that is being adopted by both atheistic-proletarian and ‘secular’-bourgeois opponents of the clergy as a mechanism for resisting the frugality associated with the formal phase of capital accumulation. It is argued that the two above-mentioned classes utilise excess for contrasting reasons, the ‘secular’-bourgeoisie, in order to secure and dominate the real phase of domination, and the atheistic proletariat, in order to transcend all forms of capitalist exploitation.

Grotesque body as the death of thanatocracy

  • Grotesquerie as excess

Bataille has characterised this stage of capitalist development ‘as an economy of excess reversing Protestant modernity’s ascetic emphasis on frugality and self-denial and non-utilitarian expenditure’ (Bataille, 2001: 65). Bakhtin (1973: 255) describes ‘the people’s mass body’ as a gigantic, grotesque, excessive, excremental dark matter outside ascetic history,

It is the people as a whole, but organised in their way, the way of the people. It is outside of and contrary to all existing forms of the coercive socioeconomic and political organisation, which is suspended for the time of the festivity.

When ‘a truck rented by people for the Ethical treatment of animals dumped four tons of cow manure on Pennsylvania Avenue near the world bank HQ’ (Boje: 2001: 22), or when copies of the Koran are laced with excrement and urine or when religious icons are juxtaposed with images of shit in surrealist films, the excess of capital’s over-production is turned against the ruling class.

Bakhtin talked of grotesque realism and the distinction between the grotesque body and the classical body. ‘The essential principle of grotesque realism’, Bakhtin writes, ‘is degradation’, but this degradation is both negative and affirmative (Bakhtin quoted in Dentith, 1995: 67). It lowers all that is high, including spiritual and abstract ideas, but it also regenerates through a ‘banquet for all the world’. The grotesque body, aside from being excessive and excremental, is also unfinished, unlike the classical body, which is either complete or close to perfection. ‘The grotesque is to be seen’, writes Dentith (1995: 80), as the ‘expression of that attitude to life which also underlines the carnival, an attitude founded upon the biological continuity of the body of the people’. This is a collective biological life, in the process of becoming, rather than say the private, subjective grotesque expressed throughout the Romanticist period.

Pam Morris (1994: 205) explains it in these terms: ‘[the grotesque] body and bodily life have here a cosmic and at the same time an all-people’s character; this is not the body and its physiology in the modern sense of the words, because it is not individualised’. The 21st century grotesque as expressed in genuine carnivals has managed to go beyond this formulation, rejecting both the possessive, egotistical notion of (orthodox bourgeois) individualism and its darker Romantic version, in favour of a (proletarian) individuality that seeks and finds synthesis with the bio-historical body of people. The carnivalesque, therefore, does not subsume individuality under a false collectivity. Quite the contrary. Through the creation of a zone of proletarian development (ZPD), the collective bio-historical body comes to protect and promote the ‘flowering’ individual.

  • Hysteria as resistance against hierarchy

During October 2001, Iranian football fans would take to the streets after the final whistle and scream hysterically. This unsettling tactic has parallels with the British suffragettes’ utilisation of madness in the early part of the 20th century as well as the omnipresent madness of medieval carnivals. Although an orthodox political activist may scoff at the lack of articulated, rational consciousness in such protests, a seasoned observer cannot help but be impressed by the scream’s ability to withstand recuperation (Holloway, 2002). The scream is interested in neither the Magistral nor the Socratic forms of dialogue with the ruling class.

To the intentional grotesquerie, hysteria and mobility of Iranian football rioters one should add the element of intoxication. The Islamic ban on drinking, initially a dietary method of demarcating Islam from Christianity, has become a genuine site of contestation with proles risking imprisonment, flogging and fines to obtain alcohol.

Earlier I suggested that the scholarly sanitisation of carnival might very well have begun with Bakhtin himself. Mary Roth (1997: 7) concurs,

When drink appears in Bakhtin’s descriptions, it is confined (and distorted) within the phrase ‘food and drink’ or variants like ‘appetite and thirst’ and ‘excrement and urine’. The phrase ‘food and drink’ expresses a false symmetry and disrupts social experience even further when the reference is to strong drink …

Emerson and Morson (1987, quoted in Roth, 1997: 8) have charged Bakhtin of ‘robbing carnival of its dark potency’, and Renate Lachmann (1988-89, quoted in Roth, 1997: 8) claims Bakhtin’s carnival allows ‘for neither frenzy nor ecstasy’.[12]

It is precisely through achieving ‘frenzy’, at times with the aid of alcohol, that Iranian proletarians have undermined the regime. Imported alcohol plus home-made alcohol and various drug concoctions are consciously taken before demonstrations as catalyst. Those forms of Islam such as Sufism that have had a more tolerant attitude towards ‘intoxication’ are frowned upon for their flirtations with immorality. The regime’s increasingly frenzied attack on ravers, prostitutes, cross-dressers, homosexuals and drug-takers are indicative of a dangerous loss of authority.

Experimentation with drink and sex within zones of proletarian development benefit from traditional forms of food-sharing. At times of austerity, the offering of food as gift (use-value) is of tremendous importance. In Iran, it is traditional to distribute sweets amongst the crowd during political demonstrations. As Bakhtin (1973: 302) observes, ‘The popular image of food and drink are active and triumphant, for they conclude the process of labor and struggle of the social man [sic] against the world’. The material abundance of carnival is in dire contrast to the paternalistic magnanimity of rulers during spectacles such as Ashura or Court entertainment in medieval times. Bristol (1983: 644) notes,

in Court entertainment and aristocratic pageantry [I would add the Ashura procession] social and economic relations are spiritualised; abundance derives from the correct distribution of authority and deference, and from the recognition of natural superiority. [added]

This is in marked contrast to carnival where abundance results from ‘the transformation of everyday work and the consequent renewal of the body’ (Bristol, 1983: 644). Morris (1994: 226) makes a significant observation in this respect, ‘The sharing of food is also closely associated with free speech and with the defeat of time; festive talk looks towards a utopian future’.

The rhythm of these food and drink binges is related to labor but finds its own frenzied pace during carnivals especially where music provides a catalyst. In Iran, at least, the gyrating rhythms of the crowd convey an ideology that is explicitly anti-capitalist and anti-religious. Mahabir (2002: 17) explains how rhythm can sometimes become ‘the cultural signifier of the working classes, and it is therefore seen constantly under siege from the ruling classes, while at the same time appropriated by this class to advance its own ideology’. The most vivid example of this recuperation is the monotonous rhythmic chest beating of Muslim participants of Ashura, signifying the triumph of death over life and propagating eschatological gloom. Perhaps this chest beating, which in its extreme form veers into self-flagellation, should best be described as ‘anti-rhythmic rhythm’.

In summary: what profanities, curses, rhythm, intoxication, music, eating, grotesquerie and sexual transgressions point to is the dissolution of the clergy’s concept of etiquette. With the demise of etiquette and decorum, hierarchy, fixed social categories and class distinctions are put under collective erasure. ‘Conversational immorality’ (Billig’s term for deviating from bourgeois turn taking amongst speakers) is no longer experienced as shameful (Billig, in press). Representatives of God on earth are heckled and abused. Carnival’s dialogic interactions are ‘frank and free, permitting no distance between those who [come] in contact with each other and liberating from norms of etiquette and decency …’ (Bakhtin, 1984a: 11). Riots and ‘festive time’ provide a space for a new form of communication where the proletariat can challenge myths, taboos and beliefs. The marginalised majority regains the centre.


In this section I will focus the analysis on two seminal matches and their immediate aftermaths. The first was a Bahrain-Iran match played on 21 October 2001, which ended with an unexpected 3-1 win for Bahrain. The ensuing riots lasted for two days. The next game was the home leg of the Iran-United Arab Emirates (1-0) match on the 25 October 2001. Again the riots lasted for two days. So the period under investigation is 21-27 October 2001. I chose these two matches as they seemed to be the high points in a longer cycle of football riots. These two riots were, in fact, sandwiched between less significant football upheavals that provide the background for our case studies (e.g., the Republic of Ireland-Iran match of 10 November 2001). The crowds reacted riotously irrespective of the fact that the first match was a defeat whilst the second a victory. The data was collectedpost hoc from two prominent (and by and large factually reliable) opposition weeklies, Kayhan and Mojahed respectively. The London based Kayhan (Weekly) supports a constitutional monarchy but allows liberals, social democrats and the occasional Leninist to air their views in its pages. Mojahed is the newspaper of the Mojahedin-e Khalq organisation which began life as a Muslimtendency, shifting leftwards in the 1970s, before returning to its roots. Today they represent more a religious cult rather than a political party in the classic sense (Singleton, 2003).Mojahedin-e Khalq are justifiably renowned for their political opportunism and ruthlessness but provide extensive information regarding the riots.

3.2.1 Bahrain vs. Iran (21 October 2001)

This was expected to be a simple walkover. Another appearance in the World Cup beckoned and Iranians were making arrangement to be in Japan and Korea for the summer of 2002. The heavy 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bahrain led to immediate rioting. There were unsubstantiated rumours that players were leaned on by the authorities to lose in order to prevent further carnivals. Alternatively, it was put about that players were kept awake the night before the match by an over-zealous mullah who insisted they pray together. The Head of the Football Federation, Safā’i, had to publicly deny these allegations (Kayhan, P. 14, No. 881, 7 November 2001).

As E. P. Thompson makes clear in the case of 18th century England, rumours had a significant role in generating popular rebellion especially as rulers showed a ‘dismissive attitude to these fragmentary and sometimes unreliable snatches of information’ (Barker, 2002: 13). In Tehran, hundreds of thousands took part up and down the country and the mood abruptly turned ‘political’. The slogans raised became more and more radical as the two-day rioting jamboree progressed. The upheavals in other cities were just as fierce, especially in Tabriz, Kerman, Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman-shah, Qazvin and Rasht. Friends, families and relatives of the arrested rioters would besiege police stations and demand their release (Mojahed, P. 8, No. 563, 30 October 2001).

In the capital proletarians drew analogies between the defeated Afghani Taleban and Iranian mullahs. The popular chant, ‘Death to the Taleban, whether in Kabul or Tehran’ and ‘Death to the mullahs’ was accompanied by the more sanguine, ‘Freedom of thought, eternal, eternal’. The defiant ‘Cannons, tanks, guns, can’t harm us anymore’, jostled with the less imaginative, ‘Death to despotism, long live freedom’ (Kayhan, P. 1, No. 880, 31 October 2001). Even the pro-Palestine propaganda of the regime was turned against them when crowds accused the mullah-bourgeoisie of ‘transforming Iran into Palestine’. The insinuation was that the mullah-bourgeoisie was now indistinguishable from the hated Israeli ruling class

The carnivalesque mood was captured by the suitably ambiguous slogan levelled at Khamene’i (spiritual leader of the regime) and his disability (his right arm was immobile for many years although it seems to be getting better recently), ‘Our leader is an ass, one of his arms is manqué’ [my translation]. There were reports from provincial towns regarding clerics caught up in the riots. They were jostled, punched and kicked and in an ultimate act of humiliation had their turbans knocked down (Mojahed, P. 7, No. 563, 30 October 2001). Sarcastic chants of ‘Bahrain, Bahrain’ added a festive mood to proceedings. Protesters would disrobe and display their ‘collective grotesque body’ as a direct threat to the Islamic classical body. Music, both western and Iranian pop, blasted from every corner. People generously offering sweets and cakes to passers-by enhanced the carnival mood (Mojahed, P. 6, No. 563, 30 October 2001). The reclaiming of the streets and the demonstrations rapidly spread from the western parts of the capital to include 54 districts.

Government buildings, buses, ticket kiosks, banks (at least 32 in the capital alone), police cars/motor-bikes, traffic lights and public phone boxes were attacked and burnt to cinders. Stone throwing crowds pushed back armed security forces in many places both in Tehran and a number of major and minor urban centres. In some quarters crowds would surround Basiji forces (an auxiliary younger militia force, which began as a ‘home-defence army’ during the Iran-Iraq war, and is mainly responsible for internal security) in a pre-emptive manoeuvre. Eyewitnesses reported some Basiji militia being handcuffed to shop railings in a successful attempt by rioters to immobilise them (Kayhan, P. 1, No. 880, 31 October 2001). The militia was in fact disarmed in places, allowing the crowd to respond to shootings with more than the customary stones and molotov cocktails (Kayhan, P. 9, No. 880, 31 October 2001). The crowds also employed stun grenades, smoke bombs, firecrackers and bricks. In residential areas households practiced an ‘open door’ policy, taking in rioters to save them from snatch squads. Where rioters were arrested, crowds would surround the security forces’ cars and ‘de-arrest’ their comrades (Kayhan, P. 9, No. 880, 31 October 2001). In more extreme cases, crowds would demand the release of their comrades and smash up police vans to underline their intent (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 564, 6 November 2001).

Barricades went up in Sattar Khan Street (western Tehran). Car tyres were burnt (and more radical) versions of the abovementioned slogans were aired, ‘[Regardless of] Canons, tanks, rockets, Khamene’i [supreme spiritual leader] must die’ (Mojahed, P. 5, No. 563, 30 October 2001). In fact, fire was employed not only to destroy government buildings but also to prevent traffic. Golbarg highway (northern Tehran) was brought to a standstill using such tactics. On the Ba’sat highway in Tehran, a huge refrigerator was used to block the traffic. Buses would then be requisitioned and burned to ensure a complete standstill (Mojahed, P. 6, No. 563, 30 October 2001). Gangs of young motorcyclists would chant anti-government slogans with lights blazing, whistles and horns adding to the cacophony of noise.

Khamene’i was a popular starting point although the president Khatami (belonging to the so-called ‘reformist’ wing of the mullah-bourgeoisie) was soon subjected to similar derision. Comparisons were made between the mullahs and the previous monarchic regime, ‘Shame on you, Khamene’i, time to vacate the royal crown’, and the more predictable, ‘Death to the Basij [militia]’, ‘Death to the clergy’ and the more ominous, ‘[Our] condolences to the security forces’ (Mojahed, P. 5, No. 563, 30 October 2001). Pictures of Khamene’i were burnt throughout the country. Significantly, women would not only egg on the men to engage in evermore daring adventures but also directly insulted and humiliated the police. Outside the headquarters of the ‘moral police’ in Tehran security guards were forced to break-dance with young protesters. The siren of mobile police vans was a beacon for the malcontent who would then surround and attack the offending noise (Mojahed, P. 5, No. 563, 30 October 2001). The waves of molotov cocktails targeting the class enemy were only exceeded by the amount of rubbish that was piled on roads and highways. Eyewitnesses compared the streets to an earthquake zone.

To counteract all this, a number of oppressive tactics were employed by the regime. Roads to urban centres were blocked to prevent people getting to riot zones. Activists distributing leaflets and writing graffiti were severely dealt with. Tanks were employed by the regime in strategic spaces to control the crowds (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 563, 30 October 2001). Motorbike gangs belonging to the Hezbollah (literally, ‘Party of God’) roamed the streets attacking pedestrians indiscriminately. Students, young workers, couples and mobile owners were favourite targets. In the central city of Shiraz, those arrested were subjected to both whippings and long jail sentences. Pasdaran (meaning, ‘[revolutionary] guards’, another paramilitary force) would visibly take down car numbers and issue threats (Mojahed, P. 5, No. 563, 30 October 2001). The anti-riot squad was equipped with electric batons and chains but the ‘cattle’ were impervious to pain that day. Police vans were equipped with machine-guns. Tear gas was used widely and indiscriminately to disperse the crowds. In the aptly named Coca-Cola crossroad (Tehran), security forces opened fire on demonstrators chanting ‘Death to Khamene’i, death to Khatami’. Plain-clothes officers would mingle with the crowd gathering intelligence. Even teenagers were not allowed to ‘buy’ their way out of the sentence (a common practice under Islam), as the crimes were deemed too sinful. Physical punishment had to be seen to be administrated (Mojahed, P. 7, No. 563, 30 October 2001).

3.2.2 Iran vs. United Arab Emirates (25 October 2001)

By the time the Iran-UAE match came around, there were still many teenagers in custody awaiting court appearance from a previous match between Iran and Iraq played on 12 October 2001 (Mojahed, P. 4, No. 564, 6 November 2001). That match had ended in a 2-1 victory for Iran, demonstrating clearly that result was not a determinant of rioting. Information Minister (a euphemism for the secret services), Younesi, walked through the crowds in plain clothes and declared the riots ‘apolitical’ (Mojahed, P. 4, No. 564, 6 November 2001). Special units were set up to clean up offending graffiti and remove placards throughout this tense period (Mojahed, P. 5, No. 564, 6 November 2001). These units had to endure the derision and hoots of laughter from proletarians whilst conducting their cosmetic operations. Beside this group, there were at least six other security departments involved. The ordinary police were supplemented by Basiji militia, Pasdaran units (a.k.a., revolutionary guards), the anti-riot squads, Hezbollah ‘club-wielders’, a parachute regiment and, finally, some units of the regular army.

Given the level of oppression involved, some rioters resorted to cunning stratagems. For instance, one method of ‘invisible sloganeering’ employed in Ardebil (a north-western city near the Caspian Sea) was to leave a tape recorder in a strategic location, switch it on and watch the reaction. The offending slogans would blurt out. The security forces would then run around like headless chickens in order to locate the tape-recorder. And the crowd would just stand back in amusement and enjoy the entertainment. Thousands were rounded up, most of whom were under 18 and a significant proportion in the 13-14 age category (Kayhan Weekly, P. 3, No. 881, 1-7 November 2001). Many women/girls threw away their veils during the riots. Ironically male teenagers would cover up their faces to avoid being photographed (Mojahed, P. 8, No. 564, 6 November 2001). Hundreds were arrested in Isfahan and Tabriz, two cities with a tradition of resistance. In Isfahan, road signs were vandalised and whoever was arrested was treated as a ‘political’ prisoner and given a minimum sentence of two months in jail (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 564, 6 November 2001). ‘Spiritual leader’ Khamene’i cancelled his trip to Isfahan, feigning illness. The news of proletarians smashing up the council’s decorations in order to prevent Khamene’i visiting their city was suppressed (Kayhan, P. 15, No. 881, 7 November 2001). Whereas in the previous match, dispersal was the preferred method of policing, this time crowds were cordoned off and viciously set upon. Fascist groups of Ansar-ollah (literally, ‘God’s assistants’) worked in tandem with security forces to put down the riots.

The official media attacked the protesters using terms remarkably similar to their western bourgeois counterparts. Rioters were dismissed as ‘hooligans’ (O’bāsh), ‘seditious’ (Sharoor), ‘rogues’ (Arāzel), ‘saboteurs’ (Ekhlālgar), ‘infiltrators’ (Nofouzi) and finally, ‘thugs’ (Khashen) (Kayhan, P. 3, No. 881, 7 November 2001). Authorities seemed petrified of the ‘immoral’ aspects of the rioting more than anything else. Taking a leaf out of Joseph Goebbels’ book, Information Minister Younesi, emphasised that he was not against people having a good time; in fact, the regime had arranged official celebration ceremonies for the fans including music and fireworks (Kayhan, P. 9, No. 880, 25-31 October 2001).[13]

What he objected to was behaviour incongruent with Sharia (sacred law of Islam) and ‘public decency’ (Effat Omoumi). In disbelief he whispered in an interview that, ‘the youth had even raised anti-Islamic slogans’ (Kayhan, P. 9, No. 880, 31 November 2001).[14]

During half-time the TV showed propaganda reels related to the previous week’s rioting, depicting a smashed car and a woman crying, and pleaded with viewers to stay home after the match. Crude emotional blackmail is a stable diet of the media’s propaganda against the proletariat in Iran. Rumour had it that TV chiefs had scheduled a popular movie to be shown immediately after the match in order to prevent people from spilling onto the streets (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 564, 6 November 2001). It is even alleged that in the north-eastern city of Nayshāpour, motorcycle caravans of young proletarians were infiltrated by security agents who having put themselves at the head of the march would shepherd the crowds out of city boundaries where they posed no threat (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 564, 6 November 2001).

The riots once again ended in mass partying. The Islamic ‘public space’ was ‘contaminated’ by techno music (Mojahed, P. 9, No. 564, 6 November 2001). Police cars would routinely drive by and try to intimidate the revellers but the huge numbers involved made the authorities’ task impossible. Youngsters would dance half-naked on top of cars. Both men and (unveiled) women would urge women to throw away their veil. Public parks, highly regulated social spaces under Islamic rule, were turned into raves (Kayhan, P. 3, No. 881, 7 November 2001).

3.2.3 Republic of Ireland vs. Iran (10 November 2001)

The two regional matches we have covered in detail above could be briefly contrasted to Iran’s last abortive attempt at qualification. Only Iranian exiles in Europe could make the journey to Dublin for the away leg. The majority seem to have been rank-and-file zombies of various (bourgeois) leftist parties pathetically jockeying for position for a post-mullah Iran. These parasites tried to feed off the carnivalesque energy of the football riots of the previous weeks but their clumsy attempts failed to have the desired effect.

Such bandwagon jumping antics only served to remind people of the opportunistic nature of the Iranian left. The People’s Mojahedin Organization (a bourgeois Muslim party/cult aiming to revive the corpse of Islam through a mixture of theatre and technocracy), for instance, used the occasion to promote themselves and sing the praises of a techno-friendly Allah. A social revolt against the totality of Iranian capitalism (including Islam) in previous weeks was turned into a mere political contest with the aim of reforming capitalism and preserving both Islam and nationalism.

The clumsiness of the political imposition was evident in the choice of slogans aimed at the players by the cadre, ‘Lads, we want goals, an Iran without mullahs’, or just as artificially, ‘Attack lads, and overthrow the clergy’ (Mojahed, P. 2, No. 565, 17 November 2001). Opposed to these leftist zombies was a group of Hezbollah thugs, shipped for the occasion under the guise of ‘official fans’ to coerce the enemies of Islam. Devoid of legal powers, the Hezbollah could only plead with the Irish police to arrest ‘troublemakers’. Their pleas, however, went unheeded.

On the return leg, the presence of 20 Irish women accompanied by 250 male fans caused quite a stir, as this was the first time since the 1979 ‘Islamic revolution’ that women were allowed to attend a football match. The clergy justified the decision on the grounds that Irish women’s sensibilities would not be tainted by the vulgarity and coarseness of Iranian males since none of them could understand Farsi. Both before and after this match, the authorities took revenge on scores of people for the October riots by confiscating their satellite dishes. The move was also intended to reinforce the official line that the whole shebang was orchestrated from outside the country in order to embarrass the clergy.

[End of part 3]


[12] It is conceivable that in our haste to apply a corrective we have been slightly harsh on Bakhtin in this respect. He did, after all, acknowledge the emancipatory potential of alcohol: ‘Wine liberates from fear and sanctimoniousness’ (Bakhtin quoted in Morris, 1994: 231).

[13] In recent times, under immense pressure from dissidents, the Islamic Republic has been forced to become more sophisticated in recuperating artistic subversion. Classical music (since it has no lyrics), classical Persian music (since a great deal of it is religious and male dominated) and ‘western’ films (since a great deal of it is as puritanical as its Islamic counterparts) are not censored as much as before. Certain other art forms such as theatre and female concerts are not so much banned as restricted to a handful of intellectuals or exported abroad in the same way the Nazis broadcasted jazz and swing to Allied forces during the War (Morton, 2003: 2). This is in keeping with the Nazi practice of allowing jazz in a restricted form within occupied territories. According to Mike Zwerin (2000: 155), whilst unofficial jazz magazines and clubs were being banned in former Czechoslovakia, the Nazi regime was establishing its own brand of official jazz, ‘… the jazz Section of the Czech Musicians’ Union was, however, legal. It had been created in 1971, three years after the Prague Spring, and was limited to 3,000 members’. Leninist regimes also could see the benefits of a diluted jazz for the elite. To this end they made a spurious distinction between proletarian jazz as the spontaneous expression of pain and bourgeois jazz as mere affectation (Morton, 2003:4).

[14] The summer 2007 campaign by the executive against Arāzel (rogues) and O’bāsh (hooligans) has been accompanied by a judicial onslaught which deprives the arrestees from basic rights (supposedly) enjoyed by all citizens.

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