Duck! and Gather

Whole Foods: The Politics of Betrayal

Posted on: August 20, 2009

I love reading the reactions of the reactionaries to the emerging Whole Foods boycott. They’re like children experiencing a new phenomenon. They don’t know what to make of it, so they fill the vacuum in their comprehension with the simple things that they “know”. Here are some such confused reactions:

  • “Why be mad at Whole Foods? Why not Safeway? Or Home Depot?”
  • “You leftists are trying to deny Mackey his First Amendment rights.”
  • “He didn’t say anything really offensive in his WSJ piece, and the WSJ editors, not Mackey, chose that unfortunate title.”

Well, my little reactionary pupils, I’m here to clear up your confusion for you. Let’s start with the last one. Here is a Huffington post piece explaining that what Mackey wrote in that article is what Sarah Barracuda would have written if she only had a brain. But since she doesn’t, she’s left with “death panels” and other such ideas suitable for our 3-year-old.

On the “First Amendment” argument, I’m pretty sure the Framers didn’t intend that amendment to require people like us to keep giving Mackey our money.

Finally, we come to the first argument. Why do I now prefer shopping for organic foods from Safeway over Whole Foods? One reason, of course, is price. But until I learned about “Whole Foods-gate”, I still shopped at Whole Foods regularly. Why?

The reason is that, until Whole Foods-gate, Whole Foods was one of those businesses consistent with the ethos of the Sixties. You know, environmentalism, community, “small is beautiful”, “Mother Earth”, nature-trumps-made-made crap, etc.

If you had asked me before Whole Foods-gate who I suspect founded the company and runs it, I would have guessed that the person had been a hippy in the 1960s, but wasn’t among those who cut their hair and joined the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s.

But, alas, it turns out to be John Mackey.

So why do I now shop at Safeway for my organic foods? It’s because Safeway is an impersonal corporation that doesn’t give a shit about you or me and — and this is a critical “and” — it doesn’t even pretend to. It will sell us anything that we will buy. It will sell us poison wrapped in plastic and stored in the middle isles. It will sell us organic foods around the edges of the store. It doesn’t give a shit which we buy; just so long as we buy, and our purchases include some high-profit-margin SKUs.

Whole Foods, on the other hand, pretends to be something more. Try and find the grand trifecta of the Poisoning-of-America in a Whole Foods store:

  • trans fats
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • MSG (with its many code-names)

If those poisons are in Whole Foods, I’ve never found them, and I have looked. That Whole Foods won’t sell us these poisons is a political decision, that, until now, was a brilliant business one as well.

But now Whole Foods has been revealed for what it is. It’s Sarah Palin in sheep’s clothing. It’s a fraud. It’s a betrayal of the very values it espouses.

Betrayal and hypocrisy are really shitty business models to pursue. I predict that the fall-out from this story will include a new verb in lexicon: “Mackey”, as in “Oh shit! I hope I didn’t just Mackey my own business”.

4 Responses to "Whole Foods: The Politics of Betrayal"

I’ll be honest Peter – I have had to stay away from here for awhile because it was too depressing to watch someone I thought was an intelligent, thoughtful human being turn into brainwashed sycophant – and after I write this I’ll probably go away again.

It’s pretty clear now that all the thing that you most hated about the last 8 years was that it was the right wingers in charge, not any kind of principled stance on your part – because from where I sit as an true independent Obama has not enacted a single thing that I would not have expected Bush to do had he somehow wrangled another 4 year term. We still have Guantanamo, Iraw and the Afghan War, we still torture peope, and instead of the billions that Bush handed out to Goldman Sachs and JPM, Obama has handed out trillions instead. And now we have the health care and cap & trade dog & pony shows to add to the hilarity.

I wonder if you bothered to go read what Mackey even wrote and made an effort to make up your OWN mind instead of parroting the filth that poses as thought from your side of the political spectrum these days – like the ‘VPILF’ headline you had last fall for example or your ‘teabagging’ commentors.

As an independent, I would have to say Mackey made some excellent points and all the progressive left wing has done is vilify him for pointing out the obvious – that health care, one way or another WILL be rationed – either by income & access to insurance as it is now, or by some faceless bureaucrat if your cronies get their way.

Speaking as someone whose family does not have health insurance – I would have to say that I don’t get a warm fuzzy feeling when I see union thugs beating up old people on youtube to keep them out of ‘town hall’ meetings to loudly express their feelings.

Enough tho – I don’t have time or energy to debate the minutiae of the little person’s viewpoint. Here is your biggest problem Peter – you are so totally enamored now that your ‘team’ has taken the ‘lead'(and you are a ‘team’ type person) that you have submerged your critical thinking abilities so far down that they practically no longer exist.

What you ignore is the tornado bearing down on the arena.

Your blind spot is so big that when Mackey handed you a revelation on a silver platter, you still didn’t get it.

Here is the tornado : the federal govt is spending about $4 trillion a year (give or take a war or two or a few thousand failed banks) and that same govt is taking in about $2 trillion in taxes.

I gotta go – no more time. You tell me how your life, your family’s life, your CHILDREN’S life continues on as it has been as long as govt spending continues as it has ?

Stein’s Law – It a thing can’t go on forever – it won’t.

You better wake up Peter – the rug is just about to get pulled from beneath your feet and it won’t be you who will suffer the most for it – it will be your children.

Wow. Powerful comment Matt. Thanks for taking the time.

I dunno. You might be right. I saw Bush doing what he did in 2000-08, and said: “Well, what would you expect from the scion of the first family of the Military Industrial Complex?”

Then I, as you, see Obama matching Bush on the Corporations, then raising him a trillion or so, and I now say: “Wow, that Obama fellow must be really up against these powerful Corporations. Guess they’ve got him by the short hairs.”

Why would I assume the worst of Bush but the best of Obama? Maybe it’s because, as you suggest, I’m a mindless “team fan”.

Maybe. Maybe not. I would guess that my difference in view of the two men arise from reading biographies of both, and from certain beliefs of mine about child development, personalities, race in America, the social nature of humans, markers of intelligence, and so on.

Basically, I believe that Bush drove the country off a cliff by handing the nation over to the Corporations. If Obama turns out to be a Corporate stooge as well, then, IMHO, there is absolutely no hope for this country. America will be dead in our lifetimes.

Because I think the world needs America, maybe it’s just wishful thinking of me to believe that Obama is a man of the People, not of the Corporations.

But hey, you gotta at least agree, Matt, that during this summer of health care, Obama does seem to be “going after” the insurance corporations. Sure, sure, he bent over for Big Pharma. But he seems to be bringing the wood out for Blue Cross and its ilk. No?

p.s. I did read Mackey’s piece in the WSJ. I thought the Huffington post link I give above did a decent job of deconstructing the silly ideas in there.

My fundamental “animus” toward Mackey is that he is 53-year-old that describes himself as an Ayn Rand acolyte Libertarian.

As such, I see him as a peer of my 3-year-old who is deep into her “Barbie” phase. To my chagrin, my wife lets her watch Barbie movies. The other day, I was standing on our 2nd floor balcony watching her outside. She called up to me, saying that I could fly down to the ground on a horse. WTF? I thought. Then I watched part of her Barbie movie and I saw it had a flying unicorn. Mystery solved.

Which brings be back to Mackey. I’m sure the business tycoon Mackey sees himself as a latter-day John Galt. Yeah, I’ve read Atlas Shrugged and the other one the title of which escapes my memory. And yeah, when I was in my 20s, I sort of liked the stories and the ideology.

But then I grew up and noticed that the ideology was a myth, with cartoon characters that don’t exist in nature.

Recall that one of the core tenets of Rand’s “superman” ideology was the superman/businessman conquering nature (see, e.g. “they paved paradise, put up a parking lot”). Rand hated nature. She loved parking lots and skyscrapers and trains. Anything that demonstrates man’s subjugation of Nature.

These ideas of Rand were Public Enemy Number One of the Sixties Left. And Whole Foods espouses Sixties Left ideas.

So WTF does it mean that John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods is a penitent in the Church of Ayn Rand? Does this mean he is mis-reading Rand, cutting away the meat of her theory, leaving behind nothing but a generic “superman”? Or is he a charlatan, cynically spinning a Sixties Left business, all the while deploring the “values” of that business?

Given that he is a vegetarian, and a natural health kind of guy, I think the answer is the former. i.e. I think Mackey is the kid who never grew up. He read Ayn Rand as a kid, dropped the Man-enslaves-Nature half of her ideology, but kept the cartoon superman half.

If so, why go to the trouble of calling yourself an Ayn Rand Libertarian? Much more simple to just say you watched Superman in your childhood, the show moved you, and it still motivates you to this day.

I guess even the average American would laugh at that. But calling yourself an “Ayn Rand Libertarian” sounds kind of mysterious and sexy to the average illiterate American.

FYI: huffington post is just TABLOID JOURNALISM


Comments are closed.

for the money has gone too far

Blog Stats

  • 10,050 hits
August 2009
« Jul   Sep »
%d bloggers like this: