Replacing capitalism with socialism would be a disaster, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey said during an interview on Tuesday.
“We have to recognize that some of the progressive insights are important and they shouldn’t go away, but we can’t throw out capitalism and replace it with socialism. That’ll be a disaster,” he told American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Robert Doar:
Socialism has been tried 42 times in the last hundred 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, I wrote a book on it. We need conscious leadership which is capitalism but done in a much more conscious way, take into account higher purpose, stake holders, human flourishing, and done in a very conscious way.
In regard to the violent riots that took place this year, Mackey said, “Commerce is based on peace and rule of law, we need the rule of law.”
“And I think that rule of law has been challenged a little bit and is being challenged, so we’re kind of in a rocky place in America right now and we’re defunding the police in a lot of communities, so it’s harder to do business. We have to hire a lot more security guards now,” he commented.
Mackey, who is co-founder of the group Conscious Capitalism, also explained that business culture “needs to evolve, otherwise the socialists are gonna 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. It just impoverishes everything. That’s my fear, that’s my fear that the Marxists and Socialists… the academic community is generally hostile to business, it always has been,” he continued.
Many universities are progressive and anti-capitalist, and Mackey said he has experienced heckling and been disinvited from speaking engagements.
“But more often I watch the students, particularly if I’m speaking at a business school, they love the message, ‘you can do well and you can be prosperous and you can fulfill a higher purpose,'” he noted.
“That is music to their ears, but the professors are very skeptical, their arms are crossed and they want to argue with me about it,” Mackey concluded.