In a recent question from a commentator to NYU Economics Professor Richard Wolff;

The question being, “Considering the overwhelming force of the established capitalist powers and their perpetual destructive involvement in everything from labor and capital, to national health (mental / physical / cultural), and our immoral / inhumane foreign policy,,, What can counter the current capitalist authoritarian rule other than another form of a “peoples authoritarian rule”?  Is not what we imagine and have imagined to be our democracy simply illusion?    

Professor’s response;

As for a people authoritarian rule, I prefer to call it a Democracy. Whenever a minority controls the majority this is authoritarian. When the people’s views coincide and reflect with the policies of their governing authorities this is Democracy.  How to govern capitalism has been for centuries and still is undecided (why) but these things have a way of working themselves out by themselves.  Methods for carrying out democratic principles begin at the grass roots level which includes neighborhood councils, in schools, churches, etc. This is how a democratic society should work.


Thank you for responding to my question on authoritarianism and for the continuous lessons you provide. You are correct in that authoritarianism [secular and non-secular] are in fact a fallback position when we cannot properly self-govern or govern any other way, or as I envision, when democracy fails profoundly (just as uncontrolled capitalist economies within them demonstrate cyclical failure every decade or so as you have explained in the past (with devastating effects mostly on the poor before they work themselves out repeatedly; – major financial system break downs and market scandals from the 1930’s crash to the present). As for our people doing the right thing democratically, unfortunately the majority of our sleeping society in school, neighborhood and religious councils are manipulated by our own sense of nationalism, superiority, infallibility, indifference, god chosen right, etc., preached to us by a sinister system of mainline media corporations and religious right. Symptoms of gross manipulation being evident in just the recent UN vote by 120 nations demanding a cease fire in Gaza, versus 3 nations to include Ukraine, which under their ordeal would never have voted against it, were it not for the money they needed from US.  When the majority views are the same or identical as the governing officials (self-government) as you say, does that always make Democracy good?

Authoritarianism over such a described population as ours is also dangerous as you noted when it falls under a dangerous Trump type authority — who is not a fascist or a communist but mindless authoritarian or a mentally limited authoritarian – self sustaining,,, Capitalist… But this reflects again on the mental state of the grass root majority which will be following him into the next election (as you have stated in the past “universal suffrage” does not necessarily work for the good of its own society, or a society in a high state of ignorance or fanatical rage).  As for things sorting themselves out in democracy by themselves, the trend shows that since FDR and the New Deal, things have been slowly degenerating and government slowly taken away from us by our own ignorance and passivity. So my next question is;

Can the false aspiration for a messiah or authoritarian be equally as blind and dangerous as waiting for the second coming of the aspired ideal democracy?, Or at least a level of democracy that will reverse the destructive path that we have been firmly bound to for the past 5 decades? Our hopes and procrastination has cost us a great deal of valuable time.

“There is danger in reckless change, but greater danger in blind conservatism.” -Henry George

And blind conservatism can be easily equated in the proud blind belief and the following of a great false or impotent democracy. 

With great respect and sincerity,

Gianni G.

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