Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is "deeply concerned" that "socialists are taking over" the country

"I'm a capitalist at heart, and I believe in liberty and capitalism. Those are my twin values"

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 11, 2022 4:00PM (EDT)

CEO of Whole Foods Market John Mackey (Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW)
CEO of Whole Foods Market John Mackey (Dustin Finkelstein/Getty Images for SXSW)

Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey lamented that "socialists are taking over" nationwide and warned that the initiative is "just continuing" during Thursday's episode of a podcast with Reason Magazine.

"My concern is that I feel like socialists are taking over," Mackey told the magazine's editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie. "They're marching through the institutions. They're…taking over education. It looks like they've taken over a lot of the corporations. It looks like they've taken over the military. And it's just continuing."

"You know, I'm a capitalist at heart, and I believe in liberty and capitalism. Those are my twin values. And I feel like, you know, with the way freedom of speech is today, the movement on gun control, a lot of the liberties that I've taken for granted most of my life, I think, are under threat," he continued.

Mackey, who is stepping down as CEO at the end of August, has remained a vocal critic of socialism throughout the years.

During a November 2020 discussion organized by the American Enterprise Institute, Mackey proclaimed, "Socialism has been tried 42 times in the last 100 years, and 42 failures. It doesn't work. It's the wrong way. We have to keep capitalism. I would argue we need conscious capitalism." He then branded socialism as "trickle-up poverty" and said, "it just impoverishes everything."

On Thursday, Mackey also criticized the uptick in government unemployment benefits offered amid the pandemic, which he alleged made it difficult to hire more staff members at Whole Foods. He proceeded to make jabs at the nation's "younger generation," stating that they "don't seem to want to work" and echoing Kim Kardashian's advice for women in business.

"They only wanna work if it's really purposeful, and [something] they feel aligned to," Mackey said. "You can't hope to start with meaningful work. You're gonna have to earn it over time. Some of the younger generation doesn't seem to be willing to pay that price, and I don't know why."

Like clockwork, Mackey's statements spurred controversy across social media. On Twitter, many opposed his sentiments while others challenged his political takes.

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"How ironic that I would love to live in the world apparently imagined to exist by so many leading capitalists," wrote Jacobin staff writer Luke Savage.

One user tweeted, "If the ridiculous prices aren't enough to keep you from shopping at Whole Foods, recent comments from the CEO, John Mackey, should be. He is 'deeply concerned' that 'socialists are taking over' the country. He clearly doesn't understand socialism so he should shut up."

"Damnit, just when I settle on a go-to grocery store that I can bike to easily for things we consume, some asshole, capitalism-drunk, CEO opens his mouth about issues that matter to me," said another Mackey critic. "I shouldn't be surprised, honestly..."

Mackey also made it clear during his podcast appearance that he'll be sharing more hot takes in the future, after he retires from his current position.

"Pretty soon, you're gonna hear about 'Crazy John' who's no longer muzzled," he said, laughing. "I've got six weeks. I can talk more about politics in six weeks than I can today."

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Brief Capitalism John Mackey Labor News Socialism Socialists Whole Foods