John Mackey: Libertarian Fascist?


Jonah Goldberg's much-delayed Liberal Fascism used to be subtitled "The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton." It's got a new subtitle:

Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods

Whole Foods was co-founded by current Chairman and CEO John Mackey, who in a 2005 reason forum described himself as "a businessman and a free market libertarian." (Full disclosure: He is a donor to the Reason Foundation.) The forum was on Milton Friedman's argument that corporations don't have any ulterior social responsibilities. Mackey disagreed.

The Wealth of Nations was a tremendous achievement, but economists would be well served to read Smith's other great book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. There he explains that human nature isn't just about self-interest. It also includes sympathy, empathy, friendship, love, and the desire for social approval. As motives for human behavior, these are at least as important as self-interest. For many people, they are more important.

The business model that Whole Foods has embraced could represent a new form of capitalism, one that more consciously works for the common good instead of depending solely on the "invisible hand" to generate positive results for society. The "brand" of capitalism is in terrible shape throughout the world, and corporations are widely seen as selfish, greedy, and uncaring.This is both unfortunate and unnecessary…

And liberals often attack Mackey and Whole Foods for not letting workers unionize.

So, any suggestions for Goldberg's new new subtitle?

UPDATE: Ezra Klein noticed this, too. Coming soon: Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Ezra Klein.

UPDATE THE SECOND: Goldberg responds to Brad Plumer, who also made the "Whole Foods not actually liberal or fascist" point:

He doesn't really seem to know what he's talking about (oh, and it's not like it's news to me that the owner of Whole Foods is a self-described libertarian but maybe the German obsession with organic food and environmentalism, for two examples, is news to Plumer). But that's okay, it's what I expected. To be continued, when the book comes out.