The biggest threat to global stability is the absence of kindness and moderation in politics—at least according to Daniel Lubetzky, chief executive of KIND. In a new interview, he criticized the rise of violent and loud political factions.
“The problem in our society is that we're getting hijacked by extremism,” says Lubetzky, who founded the aptly-named snack bar company in 2004. “Across the world, the rise of totalitarianism and thugs and dictators, and, in the United States, the increasing strength of the extremes.”
“This tiny amount of extremists wake up in the morning and they think, ‘How can I advance my cause?’ And they want to stop at nothing,” Lubetzky adds. “The vast majority of people are moderates, but they wake up in the morning and they think, ‘What can I have for breakfast?’”
In European parliamentary elections late last month, populist parties on the left and right gained seats while centrist parties slipped. Days before, voters in India re-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist whose tenure has coincided with a rise in attacks on Muslims, many of which have gone unpunished, according to Human Rights Watch.
The recent developments follow a trend that dates back at least to 2016, when populist sentiment rose to the fore with the election of President Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit.
Lubetzky made the comments to Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a conversation that aired on Yahoo Finance in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
To date, the company has sold 2 billion snack bars. The KIND Foundation, an affiliated philanthropic organization, gives resources and mentorship to students around the world. In 2015, President Barack Obama named Lubetzky a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
‘Make sure that we don’t take for granted democracy’
Lubetzky, who grew up in Mexico City and came to the United States at age 16, said a person’s willingness to respect political opponents is entirely separate from his or her political views.
“Extremists versus moderates is not whether you're from the left or whether you're from the right or whether you're from the center,” Lubetzky says. “It's anybody.”
“You can be a conservative and be able to listen to the other side. You can be a progressive and be able to listen to the other side. It's when we stop listening and we think that we have all the answers that we start getting into trouble.”
The son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetzky said he grew up listening to stories about both the horrors and occasional moments of kindness that occurred in Nazi concentration camps.
“It's very much what guides me to never accept things the way they are and to do whatever I can and not wait for somebody else to do it to try to build those bridges and try to make sure that we don't take for granted democracy or freedom or rule of law,” he says. “I really cherish in America that essential element of stability”
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.