Hungary’s PM comes under maestro attack

Hungary’s PM comes under maestro attack


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2018

Unlike his brother Ivan, the conductor Adam Fischer (left) has been sparing in his political pronouncements.

Until today, when he published an attack on the Orban government on two newspaper websites, the Guardian and  Business Insider.

He writes, inter alia:

Hungary is one of the least international of the EU member nations, with a low rate of foreign language learning. Left unchecked, the government of Viktor Orbán will continue to undermine pluralism and further marginalise voiceless minorities.

I am a member of the Helsinki Committee – a human rights organisation originally founded in the Soviet Union in 1976. Our work is exemplified by the need to protect the international Central European University in Budapest, which is under threat of closure from the Hungarian government.

This summer, I took a taxi in Budapest, and the driver told me that all migrants were terrorists and the worst thing any government could do was to allow them into the country…



  • Zach Benites says:

    This is the typical far left polemic of devaluing the individual and individual rights, and defining people exclusively by their assignment to artificial groups comprising the oppressors and the oppressed (“voiceless minorities”; “undermining pluralism”).

    These groups are then played off against each other in an attempt to force a utopian equality of outcome (which has never existed and can not be made to exist) and to create social tensions or even violence. Straight out of the Frankfurt School Critical Theory playbook.

    • Will Duffay says:

      And Orban is a repressive demagogue who is leading Hungary towards fascism.

    • V.Lind says:

      You might want to take a closer look at Orban’s published statements on his views of migrants — of any stripe. What he wants is a white, Hungarian Hungary,

      The EU is trying to deal with a massive refugee and migrant crisis. Many countries have tried to help, from Germany and Sweden to Italy and others in the western part of Europe. The former East Bloc countries have been very resistant, doing far less than their share, aside form all the uttered disgruntlement. As far as I am concerned Hungary and other like it should be tossed out of the EU, losing all the advantages membership has brought it. (And Poland is a major offender in the refugee-intake business). Their one-way interpretation of freedom of movement is reminiscent of old attitudes.

      Of course the EU will not act as revenues go both ways and membership income, low as it may be, from the eastern European countries who contribute little to EU activities, is not to be given up lightly. And possibly the EU hopes that continued membership will at least slow down the drift back to right-wing, racialist and otherwise objectionable policies in Eastern Europe. We’ll see: but it is not winning in Hungary.

      • Linneo Feliciano says:

        “What he wants is a white, Hungarian Hungary”
        Well the ANC in South Africa wants an all black nation, but this is universally applauded by the mainstream media and all liberal-minded people.

      • Gergely Remzso says:

        Orbán is not Hungary, he is the PM of it. Nevertheless not a good one but what the EU can do is to make sure, the next election will be under a fair and controlled system, unlike the last two of them. Many people have to keep silent and survive there. He uses the same techniques as they have done in the communism just covered in other cape. The 2 third of the country actually against Orbán, but the election system is manipulated by its two levels. Also there is no powerful reliable party what could be rival to them. I state this as a hungarian.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The European idea is, that it is a collective of nations sharing some basic humanist, secular values, of which the most important is: in a secular, free, democratic state, everybody of any ethnicity or culture can live peacefully under the umbrella of a superstructure which garantees individual freedoms and human rights, combined with the rule that every citizen is treated equally under the law. This means that a European citizen can be both European (born in Europe or not) and preserving his culture of any kind, including European culture, at home and wear clothes of whatever kind. This has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with left- or rightwing politics but is an achievement which has been reached after ages of war mongering and insanity. So, it is a product of and the only logical conclusion after the most devastating experiences.

      Eastern Europe has been suffering under Soviet dominion for half a century so they find this idea difficult to deal with, since it would mean some drastic, quick changes in mentality. Being a member of the EU does NOT mean only economic advantages. For that reason it is easy to see that Orban has not a clue what Europe is about and merely reacts, pavlovlike, on circumstances and uses collective worries to increase his power. It may be better if Hungary would leave the EU.

      As for the distribution of fugitives, the idea of Ulrike Guérot (political scientist and advocate of a ‘European Republic’), of cutting Europe up into small regions which have the freedom of accepting immigrants and fugitives according to local space, economic possibilities and cultural identity, seems to be a much better idea than a directive from Brussels which conflicts with local culture, as is the case in Hungary. Or, to localize more carefully where immigration is a contribution to local needs and where it is not and then make sure that such locations flourish.

      • Sharon says:

        Isn’t “cutting Europe into small regions” what the EU was formed to prevent? I understand Mr. Borstlap’s point that some regions are better able economically and culturally to accept immigrants than others. But if employment is a problem fewer immigrants will come or stay and cultural change will happen, with or without immigrants.

        If cultural change is going to happen, let it favor toleration of other cultures which will enrich it, rather than solidifying a lack of toleration which will not. Read Elmtown’s Youth, a major US sociological classic about the very class and ethnically stratified town of Peoria Illinois in the 1940s and compare it to Peoria today, an immigrant haven.

        Yes, with cultural change there will be some backlash for a while, and some of it may be very unpleasant. However the law acts as a teaching tool and points to better values, such as welcoming cultural diversity.

        For ex, take Ireland. Forty years ago it was a bulwark of culturally conservative values in Europe. Today, thanks to immigration and imposed EU regulations they are more tolerant and to the left culturally, for ex, passing a referendum to legalize gay marriage, than any other European country.

        Another example is the American South. Sixty years ago Blacks were still fleeing the American South because of segregation and the lack of upward mobility which kept them in poverty. Today they are flocking back to Southern cities because of the increased opportunities for Blacks who are now in leadership positions all over the South. Federal civil rights laws helped change local culture within 20 years.

        Paternalistic big government? Maybe. But we need a governmental body that sees the big picture when local leadership has a lot of interest, including the fear of change and the loss of their status, in maintaining the status quo.

        Ultimately “the world is my country, all mankind are my brethren”.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Guérot’s idea is not that European regions would be entirely independent like many quarelling little nations, but that the whole of the regions form a feredal nation which would be balancing-out the many local differences. So, both a process upwards to unity and downwards to locality. A big general government will be necessary to regulate things, for instance the interests which are important for every region like foreign policy and justice etc.

          The idea of “the world is my country, all mankind are my brethren” would be nice if there were not so many people who are hardly human, and are driven by the most destructive urges imaginable…. it is not necessary to point to some evidence since we can see that regularly in the news. And the differences in opportinities for development are also staggering, as are the differences in intelligence (as the current surge of populism shows), The differences between people are of much greater scope than any difference between animal species – due to consciousness and individual ingenuity. So, conclusions about ‘humanity’ as a whole are too unspecific to have any real meaning… only our hopes for betterment and efforts for progress offer some concrete possibility, but not much more. This is deeply tragic (for instance, given the increasing pressures to drastically do something about climate change which increasingly seems to be impossible)…. but well, tragedy seems to have been the structural condition of the species all along.

          • Sharon says:

            We can’t give up, Mr. Borstlap. I believe that this is one of the main messages of classical music

      • Don Ciccio says:

        “It may be better if Hungary would leave the EU.”

        No, it’s not. Orban will end up in Putin’s arms – not that he’s not sucking it to the russian, but outside the EU would get much worse.

        And here’s a comment about Eastern European nations not welcoming refugees. I was in Romania in 2015, at the height of the migration crisis. While many (but definitely not all) voices that I heard were similar to what maestro Fischer told about the taxi driver, the Romanian government nonetheless was willing to honor its agreement as a EU nation in accepting refugees. But none were willing to come to Romania; they preferred the richer Western nations. From what I followed up with friends, they told me that the few who actually settled in Romania promptly left for Italy once they got their EU papers.

        • Jeppers Jepperson says:

          “As for the distribution of fugitives”
          You probably mean “male Subsharan economic migrants”

        • John Borstlap says:

          That is understandable… they go where there are more opportunities. Concerning Hungary I think, on reflection, that you are right, the country should remain in the EU as long as possible. Best would be to continue putting pressure on the country in the hope it will change its ways – Orban will not be ruling it forever. I see in the news today that Hungary has met a strong opposition in the EU parliament.

  • Tamino says:

    Here is what I don’t get. Aren’t the Hungarians, the Magyars, all immigrants themselves? Shouldn’t they all be sent back to the Ural mountains, where they came from? (based on their own logic)

    • Doug says:

      And by your logic, shouldn’t we all go back to Africa? Moron. Sheep.

      • John Borstlap says:

        In the past, many whites went back to Africa but they were, in the end, not really welcome. Many locals wanted to organise their own suppression and corruption.

    • Bruce says:

      Tamino: bigots don’t care about that. Look at the US, where
      (a) everyone except Native Americans is part of an immigrant group,
      (b) all immigrant groups were scorned upon their arrival by immigrants who arrived earlier (Irish, Italians, Poles all taking the discrimination they had faced and turning it against others), and
      (c) “real Americans” are now doing the fear-and-loathing thing with Latin Americans and Middle Easterners.

      (None of this is special, US-only behavior, by the way. It seems to be part of human nature.)

      • Cubs Fan says:

        (a). The “Native Americans” didn’t just spontaneously appear here. They, too, emigrated from elsewhere – in some versions they trekked across the Bearing Strait and spread throughout the Americas. Or take the Mormon story that they are the Lost Tribes of Israel and came here on barges. And by some account, the Vikings may have been here before that.
        (c) real Americans welcome LEGAL immigrants – they’ve made tremendous contributions to our society and culture. It’s the ILLEGAL that we do not need or want. We cannot continue to support the large number of uneducated, unskilled people crossing the border illegally.

        • Tamino says:

          There was no illegal immigration, up to a time not too long ago
          Also, if you can exploit the large number of uneducated, unskilled people abroad, as you do, you can also support them. You just don’t want to. That’s different.

          Your self made righteousness doesn’t make sense.

          • Cubs Fan says:

            Your response makes no sense. What’s “not too long ago?” We exploit people abroad? If you mean give them jobs and improve their economies, I guess so. The current influx that has been getting really bad for the past 10-15 years has been caused by political instability and crime in countries to the south. People are fleeing for a better, safer life. I get that. But too many are bringing their problems, attitudes, and yes, uncivil behavior along with them. Crime by illegals is up. And before you claim I’m self-righteous again, consider this. TWO friends of mine were killed in recent years by two illegals in town. Grant Ronnebeck and officer Brandon Mendoza. Both stories made national news. Places in Cochise county that I used to love to hike and go horseback riding are now unsafe thanks to illegal drug and human smuggling operations. The gov’t has posted signs warning LEGAL US citizens not to go there anymore. Really, really sad.

          • Tamino says:

            You could know your own history a bit better. Until the 1920s basically any white person could immigrate into the US, there was no restriction. Only immigration from China was restricted since 1875 for women and 1882 for both genders.
            Only in 1921 Congress started to enact quotas by origin country for limiting immigration.

          • Tamino says:

            and re the drug problem: easy solution: who buys that shit? if nobody buys it, then there is no problem.

        • Sigmund Freudly says:

          Couldn’t agree with you more. We want LEGAL immigration. And by the way, it seems to me that the least discriminated group of immigrants to the U.S. in the last century and a half was the Germans. Like my grandfather, it must because they learned English, worked hard and contributed to the wealthy and well-being of America.

          • Cubs Fan says:

            Tamino: your condescending, I’m-smarter-than-you attitude is really annoying. You originally used the phrase “…up to a time not too long ago” Sorry, but 1920 IS a long time ago. It’s three generations ago. The world has changed an awful lot since then. The border situation has changed. Maybe you’re old enough to remember back then. Myself, being a baby boomer, don’t.

        • Mauricio Fernandez says:

          Have you ever wondered why most of the people trying to cross the border are ‘uneducated and unskilled’?? Does this possibly have to do with the corrupt regimes and dictatorships in many Latinamerican countries that came to power in many cases helped and sponsored by North American governments supplying them with arms and other repressive means? Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, El Salvador etc etc are just a few of the examples of repressive regimes who care(d) nothing about education and giving people honest jobs. No wonder then that if you have to survive under infrahuman conditions hopIng for a better future for yourself and your children leaving your country is the only thing you can do. And remember when you next buy your strawberries e.a. who plucked them for a miserable pair of dollars: the unskilled and uneducated people you want to send away!

    • Salomom Morel says:

      I find your comment anti-Semitic!

      • Tamino says:

        And I find your reaction strange. Is doesn’t make any sense. Attempt at sarcasm?

        • Sharon Beth Long says:

          It is my understanding that the crime rate by undocumented immigrants is lower than the crime rate of citizens. One of the main crimes that undocumented immigrants are being deported on is the crime of entering the country illegally!

          • Tamino says:

            Depends on the country of origin.
            Apparently in Europe immigrants from the North African Maghreb states, Tunisia and others, are very criminal in average. Real war refugees, e.g. from Syria, are not criminal at all in average.
            In Sweden much of the current gang related crime is done by second and third generation immigrants, often with Swedish citizenship, but not at all by the actual first generation immigrants.
            Some cultures don’t integrate well in Europe.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Everybody integrates, given enough time. (Although that may be a very long time.)

    • Stephen says:

      Hi, Tamino! You’re a little too aggressive for this civilized forum. Calm down.

  • Brian says:

    The Guardian article was online yesterday, and the date given on the Business Insider website is September 10th, i.e., two days ago.

    I realise I am being pedantic, but writing “today” is inaccurate journalism.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Well so far, I’m actually liking Adam’s recorded Mahler more than Ivan’s. Both are good.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    One last thought. If this is indeed a *global* crisis, why isn’t China, who has the world’s 2nd largest GDP and superpower ambitions, contribute towards a solution? Just asking, you know…

    • Tamino says:

      But they are contributing.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The large scale migrations in the world are: (1) people moving from North Africa and the Middle-East into Europe; (2) people from South and Central America moving to the US.

      In China, there is net out-migration, so they are not really concerned about immigration. The only in-migration that worries China is a potentially destabilised North Korea resulting in large numbers fleeing over the border; and they are working hard to ensure that does not happen.

  • John says:

    Orban is the saviour of Europe. If it was not for his fences, there would have been millions more migrants in Europe.

    Thank God for Orban. Adam Fischer can dream of such a legacy.

    • Tamino says:

      Rrrrright! since the Hungarian southern border is the whole south-eastern EU border. Tss, the nonsense some people actually believe…

      That fence has reduced the number of border crossings into Hungary only. It has probably not reduced the number of immigrants to EU altogether by even one. Would you turn around going back to Syria or Afghanistan if you are stranded at the Serbian-Hungarian border? Or would you take a little detour and use another border for crossing?

      • John says:

        2015: Arrivals by seat to Europe: 1.000.000+

        *Hungary builds fence*

        2016: Arrivals by sea to Europe in 2016: 363.000

        2017: Arrivals by seat to Europe in 2017: 171000

        Hungary was the primary gateway to Western Europe (just look at a map and you’ll realize way), and after the fence was built, migrants could not get through. Sorry if you didn’t know this.

        • Tamino says:

          Nonsense. Heard about the difference between correlation and causation?
          Hungary’s fence had very little to do with the decline in numbers of refugees from the war theaters Syria and Afghanistan. Hint: the cause of the decline has more to do with those conflicts themselves.
          ‘just look at a map’… hilarious, you are cracking me up. And you reside where if I may ask, you “expert”?

          • John says:

            Your absolute lack of knowledge is good fun! There were killed just as many civilians in Syria in 2016 as in 2015. So please tell me more about how “the cause of the decline has more to do with those conflicts themselves”. Most of the Syrians are by the way internally displaced. Just 3-4% have come to Europe.

            There is by the way no war in Afghanistan. The risk of dying in a terrorattack in Afghanistan is about the same as dying in a car accident in Croatia. Be my guest.

            As a small dessert for you: In 2016, less of 1/4 migrants arriving in Europe came from Syria. 10% were Nigerians, where there is no war at all. The biggest portion were gloryhunters. Effectively stopped by mr. Orbans glorius wall.

          • Tamino says:

            John, that’s all so wild and berated, please stop absorbing the fake news as you apparently are. You have simply no idea what you are talking about, as is evident by your comment about sub-saharan illegal immigrants allegedly being stopped by a Hungarian fence. LOL

          • Sharon says:

            There is a lot of violent conflict in parts of Nigeria due to the vicious Boku Harem

          • John says:

            Tamino, I shared some facts, you shared your emotions. 15 year old girls usually do that. Perhaps you should start a makeup blog? Stay woke 😀

          • Tamino says:

            John, you didn’t share any relevant or conclusive facts. Just inconclusive gibberish.

          • John says:

            Your assertion was that the Hungarian fence “[…] has probably not reduced the number of immigrants to EU altogether by even one”: Proven wrong. (Figures dropped by more than 60% from 15 to 16″.

            Your assertion was that the drop in refugees from 15 to 16 was because of the development in Syria: Proven wrong. So very wrong!

            Now, have a look at a map. Of Europe. Imagine you try to find the way to Western Europe from Greece. You go to Alban… no, you don’t, no one ever did. You go to Bulg… now, there is very effective border control on the Greek border. You go to Macedonia – fine, they let you in. You’re in Serbia! Almost in the EU! But f*ck… there is the fence to Hungary. Ok, let’s try Croatia…. ANOTHER fence?! Last resort, you cross into Romania. But then again there is Hungary blocking the passage! Now, what do you do?

            Nothing. Because of the FENCE. You can’t do nothing.

            How do you sleep at night, Tamino?

          • Tamino says:

            John, in which remote hole are you making your funny statements? Somewhere in the US? It’s so hilarious that nonsense. Turkey cracking down with force on the refugees crossing into Turkey from Syria by early 2016 is the main reason btw for the sharp decline in refugee numbers in 2016, other factors in Syria itself, a generally more hostile policy by its neighbors by 2016 etc. play also a role. The Hungarian fence closed only one of many routes, it did little to lower the influx of refugees to the EU. It only made many of them get stuck in Greece longer instead, if not finding other routes crossing to Italy or else.

          • John says:

            You’re wrong – again. Imagine my shock.

            In September 2015, there could be up to 10.000 DAILY passings through Hungary. In November, after the fence was built, it could come as little as two or three migrants a day. Not two thousand or three thousand, but two or three.

            And this was of course long before there ever was talk of an agreement with Turkey.

            Here is the link for you.


            So heroic Tamino…. wrong again 😀

          • Tamino says:

            John, yes. Into Hungary. Hungary is not Europe. Got it now? Jeez…

          • Tamino says:

            One thing must be said in praise of the taxi drivers. They are often one of the only links to the opinions of the masses for the artistic bubble inhabitants and moneyed aristocracy.
            Those Uber self driving shuttles should not be introduced ever, if only to keep that channel open.

  • Fred says:

    not all immigrants (also read muslims) are terrorists but all terroristsb(read muslims) are immigrants…fishcher is naive, Orban not always very clever and apparently (not yet proven) corrupt with European subsidies. But then Junker and co are themselves (proven!) corrupt in appointing their mates to important positions : Selmayer anyone?????

  • Salomon Morel says:

    Before criticising others of “racism”, etc. shouldn’t Mr Fischer start the moral crusade closer home and tackle the (almost total) lack of Black artists in classical music?… To quote Jordan Peterson 6th rule of life:
    “set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”. I know, it’s hard…

    • Tamino says:

      Do you know the number of black people living in Hungary? I don’t get, why Mr. Fischer should make that problem his priority. It’s maybe more an issue for American artists.

      • Salomon Morel says:

        Fischer doesn’t conduct Hungarian orchestras and besides, orchestras today like the academia is a very “mullticulti” business. Moreover, Fischer, while born in Hungary is not an ethnic Hungarian, neither an ethnic Austrian or Dane though he conducted orchestras in Hungary, Austria and Denmark. So, I don’t understand why you don’t find it a bit strange that there are so few (zero more precisely) Black people in his orchestras.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Even on a European level, there are not many people who self-identify as BAME.

  • Stephen says:

    The standard of living has improved under Orban and unemployment has dropped considerably. Also he is not anti-Semitic just because he disapproves of Soros: Orban initiated the idea of the Terror House museum in Budapest, which is in memory of the Hungarians, Jewish included, who suffered so much under the Arrow Cross and Communist regimes. Orban also instigated a National Holocaust Day.

    • Tamino says:

      Orban has also just last year honored Hitler’s governor of Hungary, war criminal Miklos Horthy, responsible for the murder of about 600.000 Hungarian Jews, as a “Great statesman”.

      • Stephen says:

        Horthy was not a war criminal. He was exiled on Hitler’s orders for delaying as best he could the deportation of Jews. Eichmann then moved into Hungary and he was, as most people know, one of the worst of all war criminals.

        • Tamino says:

          You make it sound as if Horthy was an angel. It’s a bit more complex than that at best. A war criminal he still is, at least by omission. He was an anti-semite as well, even if not at the degree of insanity the Nazis were.
          Good read:

          • Solomon Morel says:

            Be careful that you could be accused of diminishing the memory of the Shoah by using too carelessly the term “anti-Semite”. Orban, like Horthy, is no anti-Semite, he is merely a Hungarian patriot. We, Jews, respect that.

          • Tamino says:

            Be careful? Of being accused? By whom? Is there a higher authority on this?
            I don’t think ‘you’ have a higher defining power over who is an anti-semite or not, than I have. That’s simply a matter of observation and rational judgement, not of dogmatic belief. It does make you look either ignorant or vile, declaring Horthy as cleared of anti-semitism. That’s just not correct, no mater how much you wish your historic revisionism to be true.

          • Stephen says:

            What right have you to call someone participating in this discussion “ignorant and vile”? Your tolerance level is low and you have no sense of the weight of words.

          • Tamino says:

            ‘or’, not ‘and’.
            To someone who claims, repeatedly, about Miklos Horthy to not having been an anti-semite.
            Sure, I would say that again anytime.

          • Stephen says:

            Yet again, this Tamino shows little understanding of 1930s Hungary. It is true that Horthy introduced anti-Semite laws but most of us know that he was caught between a rock and a hard place, between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. At the time – and this opinion was backed up by almost all non-Jewish Germans and later almost all Austrians – Hitler seemed the safer bet. Temper your passion with a little reason, “Tamino” and study the lessons of your favourite opera.

          • Tamino says:

            Stephen, Horthy is responsible for the Anti-Jewish quota laws in Hungary in the early 1920s. That’s long before Hitler and even Stalin were the determining factors around him. Horthy also did seek Mussolini’s and Hitler’s proximity, long before the power struggles in Europe might have made that sensible suggestion. No matter how much lipstick you put on that pig, it is still a pig. Even if there were bigger pigs around him. We all know that currently in Hungary there is a revisionist mainstream, trying to whitewash Horthy. Keep it to yourself. We are not that desperate.

  • Stephen says:

    P.S. “Low rate of language learning”? How about Britain, maestro? It is true we may not need to learn them much longer.