About 3,000 years ago, there was a superpower called Shang (商, meaning commerce), which was ruled by corporate merchants.
The profit-driven Shang was in constant wars against other states who dared not to submit to its military and economic powers.
During the final stage of the Shang Dynasty, it kept cracking down on the dissident states in the west, while waging trade wars and military campaigns against a kingdom in the east, which became the major cause of its demise (左传：纣克东夷而陨其身).
After the last king of Shang Zhou (商纣王) grew suspicious of King Wen of Zhou (周文王) and tested his loyalty by forcing him to swallow his own son’s flesh, a plot to revolt was secretly planned.
Before setting off to Muye (牧野) in today’s Henan Province to meet Shang’s military force, the king Wu of Zhou (周武王) gave a powerful mobilization speech (牧誓) to his men, vowing to avenge all the humiliation, exploitation and suppression that his father and the state of Zhou received from the superpower Shang (吊书罚罪).
In the early morning around 6am on Feb 28, 1046 BC, when the planet Jupiter climbed onto the highest point in the sky, troops of Zhou and Shang met for the showdown known as the Battle of Muye (牧野之战).
King Wu of Zhou had only 40,000 men, while Shang allegedly got 700,000 well-equipped troops. Yet Zhou army’s shock and awe operation took Shang’s force by surprise. Further, a great number of Shang soldiers admired King Wu Zhou and quickly switched sides.
The battle on the Muye plain concluded with the Shang troops’ catastrophic defeat, which is marked in history as the start of Shang’s total collapse.
In 1976, a bronze vessel measuring 28cm in height was unearthed in Lintong County in Shaanxi Province (陕西临潼县零口镇) from a West Zhou tomb. On its bottom, 33 Chinese characters were found to be carved on: “武王征商唯甲子朝岁鼎克昏夙有商辛未王在阑师赐有事利金用作檀公宝尊彝.” (On the Wood Rat day, King Zhou defeated Shang in Muye when Wood Star rose to the top of the sky.)
Muye Battle played a key role in ushering in a new civilisation called 礼乐文明 (Civilisation of Culture), with a focus on people and nature, instead of profit and gods.
This civilisation has been further enriched by Lao Zue, Confucius, Huineng, Mao Zedong and many other great figures, and flourished in China (with a few setbacks during the Monagle’s rule and the Manchu’s reign) in the next 3,000 years to this day.
Now humanity once again finds itself at the threshold of a newer era, and the events that occurred in recent days may also mark the beginning of the final showdown between the profit-chasing jungle laws and the shared prosperity on a global scale.
We are witnessing history right now. And we are creating history together. Just make sure you stand on the right side of history.