I got a hell of a giggle out of the predicament of Whole Foods Nation shoppers who were suddenly presented with the reality of corporate America, but this leads to a serious political question:
What do you want?
As far as I can tell from the article, there is nothing political at stake. It is all about feeling outraged that power dropped its marketing mask and spoke bluntly about interests, making crystal clear what it believes to be the economic and political interests of the corporation. While I don't like those interests because they are in opposition to my own, I can appreciate the material calculation that backs it up. It is real and I can take action.
The problem here is that the people who have become personally, emotionally invested in a brand have nothing actionable. The outrage is over the damage to the shoppers' self-perception as morally upright because they shop at the right place. He damaged the brand! Oddly enough, that damage can be fixed with the right kind of kiss ass marketing campaign done with feel good imagery and some well timed back-to-school sales. It is individualized and solipsistic to a breathtaking degree. The CEO is talking about power and they are talking about appearances.
Cynical iconoclast that I am, I wonder at the outrage. Did you honestly think this grocery store chain was anything except a cold-blooded expansion into a specific marketing demographic? Why does anyone attibute to a corporate, profit-making entity any motive except the bottom line?
What do you want? The CEO has presented claims about the material interest of a corporation. Do you want an apology or a retraction? How would that change the calculus of power? Do you want the company as a whole to reject this CEO? Why would they do that if he is the reason they are succeeding? The labor union in the story asked for Mackey's ouster, which is a clear action. What is the next step if that does not happen? Perhaps more importantly, is there any action to take with regards to the corporation? It strikes me that the only action available is to refuse to participate in your own self-deception, and that's not really Whole Food's problem, is it?
The Incomparable One, Bob Somerby, continually reminds us that the Right has no monopoly on Teh Dumb. The difference is that when they act in ways we think of as dumb - such as a CEO writing an op-ed in complete opposition to his company's public image - they do so to gain political power. When the Left suffers from Teh Dumb, it does so in ways that fritters away political power, focusing on the most shallow end of identity politics.
John Mackey has made a move to defend his interests and advance right-wing political power. The protesters at Whole Foods want someone to "take it back" and stop making them feel their brand has been cheapened. What do you think will have the larger or more long lasting impact on the lives of American citizens?
The deep problem with Whole Foods Nation is their determined substitution of political power with social appearance.