Did Whole Foods CEO Mackey just suggest Obamacare is fascism again?

We’d reported earlier this week that Whole Foods CEO and founder John Mackey put his foot in his mouth again by calling Obamacare “fascism.” Previously, Mackey had called health care reform “socialism.”

Mackey subsequently backed off of the “socialism” charge, and this week backed off again from the “fascism” charge, but only kind of.

On CNN today, Mackey says that calling Obamacare “fascism” was a bad choice of words because of the “baggage” that Americans have with the word “fascism” (e.g., Hitler). But he then goes on to define “fascism,” and then says that Obamacare is taking us in that direction. That sounds like he just reiterated the offensive statement he made earlier in the week.  (In other words, yeah I think it’s fascism, but I’m not permitted to use the word.)

food produce

Produce Market via Shutterstock.

Read the transcript below from his appearance on CNN today, the video follows. Note how Mackey explains, in a manner that sounds sarcastic and perturbed, that “apparently you can’t use that word in America any longer, it’s taboo.” He doesn’t sound like someone who gets the problem here – he sounds like his PR folks told him he that he can’t use the word fascism, and he still wants to use the word, and is annoyed that the PC crowd won’t let him.

Read and listen for yourself – does this sound like someone who understands what he did was wrong, and who is legitimately sorry?

WHOLE FOODS’ MACKEY: Clearly that was a bad choice of words, but traditionally ‘socialism’ means that the means of production are owned by the government. And in ‘fascism,’ the means of production are still owned by private individuals they’re controlled by the government. And what’s happening is, is our health care plan, our health care system is moving away from free enterprise capitalism towards greater governmental control. That was a poor choice of words because of the baggage and labels that go along with it, so now i’m just calling it government controlled health care.

CNN’S CAROL COSTELLO: And you realize, when you say ‘fascism,’ it brings up Nazi Germany and sorts of things…

WHOLE FOODS’ MACKEY: Yes (said in a somewhat drawn out, annoyed manner).

CNN’S COSTELLO: …and we really want that kind of language out of our public forum at the moment don’t we?

WHOLE FOODS’ MACKEY: Apparently you can’t use that word in America any longer, it’s taboo.

CNN’s COSTELLO: That’s right.

WHOLE FOODS’ MACKEY: Be careful, you just used it.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Ferdiad

    Yes, i do recognize that. The point though is that once again the left flips out about something without given any thought to what was actually said and whether it was accurate. Here, Mackey was pretty darn spot on with his assessment of Obamacare. Again, you may like Obamacare and you may like Obama, but that doesn’t change the characterization of the ACA. It just doesn’t. And if you want to be the party of intellectuals and thinkers then don’t dumb down the conversation by trying to say that Mackey compared Obama and Obamacare to Nazi Germany because that is not at all what he said.

  • rudehost

    Certainly makes me want to shop at whole foods more often. As much as it may disturb some people fascism is an accurate description of Obamacare. Sure in the present day vernacular it may have a different connotation but the reality is Mackey is correct. Obamacare is a fascist construct. He isn’t completely backing off because he is right.

  • ezpz

    Americans need/ed health care reform, not corporate welfare, which is exactly what the ACA is. It’s a guarantee to increase the already obscene profits of big Insurance, pharma, private hospital ‘industry’, etc., while doing little for most of us, except to mandate, under penalty of law, that we purchase an unregulated product from a rapacious, monopolistic industry.

    What a sick joke to name it the Affordable Care Act, when there is absolutely nothing in it that will ensure affordability. Quite the contrary.

  • ezpz

    What part of Lawrence W. Britt’s 14 Signs of Fascism doesn’t apply to the US?

    1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

    2. Disdain for the importance of human rights

    3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

    4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

    5. Rampant sexism

    6. A controlled mass media

    7. Obsession with national security

    8. Religion and ruling elite tied together

    9. Power of corporations protected

    10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

    11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

    12. Obsession with crime and punishment

    13. Rampant cronyism and corruption

    14. Fraudulent elections



  • ezpz

    Completely agree with you.

  • You are aware that socialism is a technique and employed across many a political spectrum including fascism? American democracy has many socialistic elements, including Social Security. If you want a symbol watch the movie ‘Metropolis.’

  • Ferdiad

    If you actually heard the interview it wasn’t nearly as offensive as you are trying to make it sound. The guy is against Obamacare. He is pretty vocal about that. You can feel free to call him whatever you want for his opposition to Obamacare. But his reference to fascism was well thought out. He explained that it wasn’t socialism, but was more like fascism. I think the definition has changed, but I remember as a kid learning that fascism was the merger of corporate and state power. You may or may not agree with Obamacare, but using that technical definition the characterization isn’t too far off. The government has used its power to force people to buy a product from corporate America. If Obamacare doesn’t fit that definition, what category does it fall into? Is it socialism? Is it communism? Is it capitalism? If you want to be so outraged with one definition, then at least tell everyone what Obamacare is more appropriately defined as.

  • dula

    What an out of touch douchebag. If the corporate world had been practicing a “conscious Capitalism” for the last 40 years, Americans wouldn’t need the ACA. I bet his employees aren’t as happy as he imagines.

  • Rob

    As long as its CEO doesn’t spout off in similar fashion.

  • FunMe

    TRADER JOE’s baby! :-)

  • Naja pallida

    They don’t understand and don’t care. Words like fascist, Nazi, socialist, communist… they’re just something they can throw at people, and have no meaning to Republicans besides “something bad”. In the same way, they have no concept or care of the historical context when they invoke Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, whoever. To them, it all just means “bad person”, or more accurately “a person who isn’t like me”. While the rest of the world, who actually considers rational thought a virtue, finds it completely impossible to form a cogent argument around it. How do you debate with someone who thinks that Obama is the modern-day Hitler? Those people are already a lost cause, and should be mocked for the idiots they are.

  • emjayay

    His interview yesterday on wnyc was full of mostly unchallenged lies and misconceptions and less than half truths on many topics. He’s a total douche, and an uninformed one besides. Check it out at wnyc.org. Read the comments.

  • theoracle

    A-Whole Foods, run by another nutty A-Whole Republican.

  • Indigo

    Did another limousine liberal shop Whole Foods? Honestly! Wake up people, go to sensible stores and farmers’ markets. Stop flushing your cash into the Whole Foods sewer!

  • mevansnh tds.net

    I don’t think he understands what the word means.

  • Houndentenor

    I can’t stop shopping at Whole Foods since I couldn’t afford to shop there in the first place (and probably wouldn’t be willing to overpay for what I can get at the farmer’s market for a lot less).

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