Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has called socialism a ‘path to poverty’, while hailing capitalism as ‘greatest thing humanity’s ever done’.
The multimillionaire made his remarks last week during a Zoom conference with American Enterprise Institute.
He blamed a ‘move towards socialism’ in the US on progressives and private universities portraying business as ‘inherently corrupt’.
The Whole Foods co-founder added: ‘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.’
The libertarian and co-author of ‘Conscious Capitalism’ said he believes the culture of business leadership needs to change if the economic system he loves so dearly is to survive.
He added: ‘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. It just impoverishes everything.
‘That’s my fear, that the Marxists and socialists, the academic community is generally hostile to business. It always has been. This is not new.’
Mr Mackey, who is worth an estimated $75million (£55.8million), argued it is important to acknowledge ‘progressive insights’ but not at the cost of the current economic order, Fox News reports.
He added: ‘Capitalism is the greatest thing humanity’s ever done. 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 doing tremendous damage to the minds of young people.
‘Until we get this corrected, capitalism is always going to be disdained and criticised and attacked.
‘It’ll be attacked for its motivations, because its motivations are seen as somehow impure. Yes, of course, business has to make money.
‘If a business doesn’t make money, it will fail, but that doesn’t mean that its purpose is to make money.’
Mr Mackey, who started Whole Foods in 1980, said he has been heckled during appearances at colleges and has even had talks cancelled.
He suggested professors are more hostile towards capitalism than students and said more ‘business people’ should be teaching.
Mr Mackey’s organic supermarket chain now employs around 100,000 people and claims to ‘lead with love’.
Explaining what he thought was needed for capitalism’s new image change, he added: ‘Love is often not associated with corporations, which are in fact generally seen as heartless money grabbers.
‘It’s part of their image problem they have in the world and its due to the metaphors we have about business as being hyper-competitive.
‘We use ware metaphors to explain business, we use Darwian metaphors to explain business, we use lots of thyper-competitive sports metaphors to explain business and when you’re at war there really isn’t much place for love.
‘You check that at the door. You do that with your family. That is very unfortunate because love is not weak, which is what many people associate it with.’
He said his company’s dedication to its workers was the reason for its low employee turnover.
It comes after staff at Whole Foods and at warehouses operated by its owner Amazon staged protests and walkouts over concerns for workers’ safety during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
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