Whole Foods CEO John Mackey urged his fellow corporate leaders to join him in beating back the rising tide of socialism — an ideology he fears will plunge the world into poverty.
In a recent interview with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Mackey said business bosses need to more aggressively push back against progressives’ increasingly popular critiques of capitalism, a system he called “the greatest thing that humanity’s ever created.”
Asked whether the business world’s culture needs to change, the grocery tycoon replied, “It needs to evolve. Otherwise the socialists are going to take over, that’s how I see it. And that’s the path of poverty.”
“They talk about trickle-down wealth, but socialism is trickle-up poverty,” he said. “It just impoverishes everything.”
“We’ve told a bad narrative, and we’ve let the enemies of business and the enemies of capitalism put out a narrative about us that’s wrong, it’s inaccurate and it’s doing tremendous damage to the minds of young people,” Mackey added. “We have to counter that.”
The 67-year-old Whole Foods co-founder made the remarks while promoting his latest book, “Conscious Leadership,” during a Nov. 24 virtual event with the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank that supports free-market policies.
Mackey — who was worth more than $75 million when Amazon announced its purchase of Whole Foods in 2017, according to Forbes — complained that entrepreneurs have been “universally vilified” as greedy when many of them start businesses mostly because they’re “passionate about something,” not just to get rich.
While Mackey said some progressive ideas are valuable, he warned that fully rejecting capitalism would cause society and the economy to stall and eventually start to decline.
“Socialism has been tried 42 times in the last hundred years and 42 failures. It doesn’t work,” Mackey said.
“They’re trying to stuff the genie back in the bottle, and if they stuff it back in the bottle, we will stagnate,” he added. “We’ll begin to regress. I’m not saying the whole technological civilization will collapse, but it will not progress and it will begin to stagnate.”