From ‘killing us softly’ lecture-performance, 1999. Photo: Platform

“The planet today is the battlefield of a 4th world war (the 3rd was the so-called ‘Cold War’). The aim of the belligerents is the conquest of the entire world through the market. The arsenals are financial; there are nevertheless millions of people being maimed or killed every moment… Globalisation is merely the totalitarian extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life.”

“.. The first step towards building an alternative world has to be a refusal of the world picture implanted in our minds and all the false promises used everywhere to justify the insatiable need to sell. Another space is vitally necessary… First, a horizon has to be discovered. And for this we have to re-find hope – against all the odds of what the new order pretends and perpetrates…. The act of resistance means not only refusing to accept the absurdity of the world picture offered us, but denouncing it. And when hell is denounced from within, it ceases to be hell.”

(taken from an exchange of letters between Subcomandante Marcos and John Berger)

All of Platform’s work confronts power, and in particular that of transnational corporations. A major new book  I You We Them. Journeys Beyond Evil: The Desk Killer in History and Today by Dan Gretton, formerly of Platform, focuses on the psychology and actions of middle and senior management.

Dan was a co-founder of Platform in 1983 and worked here for 30 years til 2013. Between 1998 and 2013 he developed the early concepts for I You We Them. He piloted the ideas in the influential durational lecture-performance ‘killing us softly’, funded by the Ashden Trust and Arts Council England, and developed the central concepts for the epic book now being published.

The 1100-page I You We Them is the culmination of more than two decades’ research into the phenomenon of the ‘schreibtischtaeter’ – a term that was first used widely in Germany in relation to the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. It translates, somewhat awkwardly in English, as ‘desk-perpetrator’ – someone who mass-murders from a desk.  However, I You We Them will focus beyond the intentionality of murder and examine the more complex, and politically urgent, question of distanced killing. How organisations and the individuals within them have been able to ‘compartmentalise’, to evade responsibility for their actions – whether in the rigid bureaucracies of the Third Reich or within the complex structures of corporations today. By foregrounding the role of white-collar perpetrators in the Holocaust, and highlighting the lethal collaboration between corporations and the state, both historically and today, it raises acute questions about the meaning of responsibility and the deeply problematic nature of contemporary corporate behaviour.

About I You We Them, the publishers Penguin/Random House state:

It is a journal of discovery, based on decades of research, interviews with hundreds of participants, and extensive first-hand experience. It encompasses extended investigations into a number of specific cases, moving from the brutalities of Empire to the scorched oil fields of the Niger Delta, from the industrial complex of Auschwitz to the empty sites of the Bosnian genocide; bearing witness, recording, and attempting to understand.

It is a synthesis of history, reportage and memoir, a sustained meditation on the nature of responsibility and injustice, and a book that will change the way we think about our past, present and future.