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Is killing ever justified?

Is killing ever justified?

YES I have respect for well-meaning people who say, “it’s never right to kill.” The pacifist is a person of great bravery—but also naivety. Maybe they have had the good fortune of never experiencing anything that has forced them to question their belief. Clearly, they have never faced a force-on-force encounter, otherwise their moral stance would have resulted in them being dead.

Killing for domination, and ultimately for survival, is partly the reason why we are so successful as a species. Killing each other is part of the human experience and history has shown that mankind has always had a fascination with it.

Roman gladiatorial combat was barbaric, but it fulfilled a societal need. That need is still with us. According to US research, the average 18-year-old teenage boy has been subjected to approximately 22,000 killings of their fellow human beings on film, television and computer games. Death and combat have long been viewed as a form of entertainment. But killing is not just about people destroying each other. It can solve problems.

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In Prospect’s December issue: Timothy Garton Ash and David Allen Green assess Brexit and ask whether it’s too late for things to change. Garton Ash explains how Brexit is just one part of a fracturing Europe and that it might not be too late for the UK’s situation—or that of the rest of Europe—to change. Green takes apart the “shambolic” way that Britain has approached Brexit and suggests a number of options that parliament should strongly consider if minister are to change their views. Elsewhere in the issue: Jo Glanville visits a rural GP surgery and exposes the crises that are played out day-in-day-out all over the country. Stephen Phelan suggests that Spain’s decision to exhume General Franco’s remains threatens to disturb more than his bones. Martin Rees writes about our dreams of understanding the entire universe—and how we may never be able to satisfy that desire.