Authoritarian, rightwing regimes who want to increase their power over society as much as possible, use the disguise of ‘defending traditional values’ to achieve their aim. We are reminded of the tactics of the nazis in interbellum Germany, manipulating the volatile and traumatized population, especially the masses who lost their jobs, their security, their sense of ‘belonging’.
This is a most evil corruption of the meaning of the concept of ‘tradition’, an attempt to force it into prostitution. But many people, anxious in these times, instinctively feel that something of the past has been lost, and that this something would offer possible solutions which would be needed today. But this correct instinct, unenlightened by knowledge, is then being misused and directed into its opposite, as we have seen happening in that very past.
For the arts, this international trend is hughely dangerous, since censorship and blackmailing lie at the end of the trajectory (blackmailing: ‘you will only be paid if you conform to our prescriptions’). The best of the West’s humanistic traditions, including the arts, are the exact opposite of such manipulations. To protect the core of the arts from being either swallowed by populism (from the left as well as from the right), or being annexed by authoritarian regimes who merely want to skim their nations for personal gain and power, without any responsibility to the population, artists have to dig deep to the heart of their profession and defend them against the threats from the side of the barbarians. How? To begin with, by speaking-out, as long as it is possible, against such tendencies, and to point towards their alternatives, which are still plenty around. For classical music, this would mean not merely defending the status quo, but formulating its values which can only blossom in independence and freedom.