Whole Foods' John Mackey Risks Being Canceled For 'Capitalism' Quote

As inflation, rising food costs, and fears of a recession fill the news cycle, economic terms have become part of the daily conversation. While a wish and a prayer might bring a Powerball windfall, the reality is that economic policy is more than just hitting a lucky jackpot. For Whole Foods founder John Mackey, expressing a belief in "conscious capitalism" may not be popular and it could impact some of his businesses' bottom line.

According to Conscious Capitalism, a movement co-founded by Mackey, the philosophy is based on the belief that business is good. Based on four tenants, higher purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture, the idea is that business can reflect where society is at any given moment and hopefully make a positive impact on the world.

Although the markets might have a knee-jerk reaction to economic indicators, the cancel culture mindset can be even more swift. Defined by Merriam-Webster as "expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure," some people extend that negative reaction into a desire to remove a person or business from the common collective. The mindset of "agree to disagree" has been wiped from the conversation. After Mackey's recent appearance at LibertyCON, his capitalism commentary might have ventured into the cancel culture realm.

What does Whole Foods founder John Mackey believe about capitalism?

Although some people might remember terms like Ronald Reagan's trickle-down economics or Barack Obama's "Obamanomics," broader terms, like capitalism, are more readily understood. Investopedia defines it as a system in which privately owned goods and services that are operated for profit. During a recent LibertyCON event, Whole Foods founder John Mackey said, "Capitalism is the greatest thing that mankind has ever done" (via FEE Stories). While his statement can be categorized both in his opinion and supported by his set of facts, Mackey believes that such an emphatic opinion could negatively impact his business endeavors. Specifically, Mackey argued that only those capitalistic critics are tolerated, and pro-capitalism statements have been met with negative responses including boycotts and business has been impacted by the cancel culture mindset.

Mackey's comments at LibertyCON were not the first time that he has spoken on capitalism. In 2020, The Daily Mail reported that Mackey believes that businesses are not "inherently corrupt," and people should be educated on the positive impact that businesses can offer. Being educated on economic policy is a good thing, even if some people may not agree with the overreaching statement from Mackey that capitalism is the "greatest thing humanity has ever done." While Whole Foods may have opened the doors to consumers being aware of how and why better food choices impact people's lifestyles, it appears its founder is trying to open the discussion on economic principles and cancel culture.