Be honest – how many of you were expecting to see something like this:
No one really knows what a Trump presidency will look like. But we can agree at least that this election result is more profound than the usual changing-of-the-guard seen in political duopolies like America.
In my latest piece at Mercatornet, I examine Trump’s victory in the sensible context of ancient Chinese history:
There’s a Chinese proverb to the effect that “he who wins becomes king while he who loses becomes an outlaw.” Though Trump has suggested that this might literally be the case once he is inaugurated, what the saying really refers to is the historical Chinese concept of the “mandate of heaven.”
At various points in history, dynasties became corrupt, weak, unjust or ineffective and were overthrown. A successful rebellion was taken as evidence that the defeated regime had lost its way, effectively surrendering the right to rule through its own misdeeds and poor governance.
As power changed hands, the mandate of heaven became a way of retaining theoretical continuity with the previous regime while lending legitimacy to the new one.
A modern democracy mirrors the mandate of heaven, but fixes authority in the “will of the people” instead. Fair and free elections allow for political transitions to occur without massive violence and disorder, and the victors typically pledge to unite the whole country, to work for the good of those who voted for them, as well as those who didn’t.
More on the Scylla and Charybdis of supermarket retail from The Monthly:
We like to romanticise our relationship with our produce, but our actions betray us as a nation that rewards size and doesn’t choose so much as follow. If we can’t go to a shopping centre without being hauled in by the duopoly – apples from Woolies, cereal from Coles, beer from Liquorland, wine from Dan Murphy’s, a hammer from Bunnings, shoes from Kmart, ink from Officeworks, a toy from Target, a pillow from Big W, petrol from Coles Express – then that is the power we have given these two companies.
Steve, a Woolworths-contracted lettuce grower who does not want to be identified, is destroying more produce than he used to farm. The supermarket’s orders vary in volume, but Steve has to be ready to fill the largest one possible. He has duly increased the size of his farm. “I have to grow for the maximum size of an order, or else I lose the contract. So I grow on that scale even though the order is usually a lot less. Everything I don’t sell, I have to destroy.” While Steve’s contract with Woolworths gives him security, his margins are tiny and increasingly squeezed by rebates and marketing “kick-ins”. In June, he was one of the Woolworths suppliers asked for a “voluntary” contribution of 40 cents a crate – on top of a standard marketing payment of 2.5% of sales – to pay for a Jamie Oliver advertising campaign. “I didn’t like it, but I can’t afford to risk not paying,” Steve says.