For all the myths of chivalry, life under the medieval feudal system was thuggish, arbitrary and homicidal. Civilising forces included the Church and the rule of law, but a major component of change was the growing power of the merchant class. Trade and the free market enabled people to resist the more brutish aspects of the aristocracy.
China's growing global trade has created a 21st-century version of the Silk Road, bringing East and West together and remaking the economic map of the world. It is a prospect which alarms Eurasia's big powers, most notably Russia. But ties between Europe and Asia will only strengthen; and will be about more than just trade.
On this week's episode of Free Exchange, Bryan Caplan explains that he has spent his whole life either learning or teaching and has decided that it is all more or less a waste of time. He loves life as a tenured professor, but, contrary to the claims of more or less everybody else, is convinced the education system just isn't that important.
After the Oxfam scandal, government aid departments must be tempted to avoid the charity altogether. Despite the inefficiency of development programmes, however, handing out hard cash directly can be even worse, fostering dependence and doing nothing to create jobs and a thriving, self-sufficient economy.
Despite the capture of the remaining 'Beatles' and the collapse of the caliphate, ISIS is yet to be defeated. Its loss of territory is likely to mean that it returns to its previous role as an insurgent movement. The terrorist organisation has lost none of its murderous ambition, and the continuing conflict in Syria leaves it plenty of room for manoeuvre.
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