I just bought some overpriced food at Whole Foods

In response Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's sensible WSJ editorial, some leftists have organized a boycott. While I can understand how someone might disagree with parts of what Mackey wrote, a boycott? Really? For Whole Foods?

To me, enterprise is a function of property rights; that's justification enough in my book. But there are some who think businesses should seek a social good. There is suffering in the world from poverty, disease, and war, and free enterprise is a great (best?) way to alleviate it. As I said, I don't particularly subscribe to that view. I think a desire to make money is good enough; I'm old school like that. But if there's any corporation in America that embraces the business-as-positive-social-force viewpoint, it's Whole Foods.

I've long held theories about political movements as psychological phenomena on a massive social scale. One belief is that self-destructive personality traits on a grand scale get channeled into leftism.

To the boycotters: Is this really the corporation that you want to boycott? Based on that opinion piece?

In response, like Radley Balko, I just bought some overpriced food from the store, and will continue to do so until the boycott lasts.

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You know you live in

You know you live in Manhattan when you find Whole Foods surprisingly affordable compared to competitors. I too did some anti boycotting last Saturday.

I won't buy their overpriced food...

...but Whole Foods has a very nice selection of beers. The ones near where I live carry Mojave Red, which is a delightful brew made in the vicinity of Mojave, California. It is comparable in price, at Whole Foods, to Sam Adams anywhere else. And did I mention it's quite good?

name your poison

I drink cider; should I check it out?

Jonathan,

While at the store did you see any evidence that a boycott was actually taking place?

To counter your point about

To counter your point about political movements as psychological phenomenon, the field of social movements within Sociology (and to some degree Psychology, Poli Sci, Geography, Social Ecology, and Anthropology) has repeatedly rebuked this argument, and basically all legitimate (i.e. impartial, not funded by special interests) research since about 1960 has shown that people who are on the "left" or who participate in collective behavior are not psychologically any different than non-participants. I don't think it's necessary to provide any particular citations, because any article published in a major field journal (Mobilization, AJS, or ASR) takes it as a given. Ironically perhaps, an older theory of collective action that corresponds to your theory has its roots in Marx. Even Rational Choice theory, which was based in economics, while not being horribly useful for understanding participation also undermines the psychological explanation. FYI. I mean, feel free to keep thinking that, but all empirical data collected in the past 50 years runs contrary to your assertions.

And what's really wrong with a boycott? Just as you argue that enterprise should be free, shouldn't consumer choice also be free? Businesses don't just sell physical products on the shelves, they also sell an image and an ethos. Many of the people who shop at Whole Foods don't just expect organic or fair trade produce, but also values loosely associated with it. Thus, when they shop at Whole Foods, they also want to buy into the idea of a socially concerned (from a liberal point of view) business, and when Mackey violates that by taking a public stand against public healthcare, that goes against the idea that those folks want to buy into.

About free enterprise...

"There is suffering in the world from poverty, disease, and war, and free enterprise is a great (best?) way to alleviate it."

We'll see, Wilde, we'll see...

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