In any setting, no matter how large or small; power corrupts. The right and just check against that corruption is accountability. Ideally to an informed party that has no vested interest beyond the best course of action for the parties involved. That is to say, they do not benefit directly from the decisions made, and so have a certain freedom to chose what is actually right.
This is the model that all nations are founded on, that the government of a nation derives its power from the governed. The people hold their leaders accountable, through elections, referendums, protests and if necessary, rebellion.
The danger is that those in power will corrupt or subvert the check that accountability places on them. Through any number of means, all of them immoral, all of them sinister.
We see in businesses, and those institutions who model themselves on businesses, obfuscation, distraction, and cronyism. The “governed” (ie: students, employees, or customers) are distracted with non-essentials (data limits on cell phone plans for example) that imitate control. In the case of cell phones, choosing a data plan that “works for you” and then paying the supposed higher costs, ignores the fact that cell phone companies are charging that amount of money because they have not updated their infrastructure. Cellular and other communication networks still route to copper wires that were laid in the 50s and 60s.
University and business boards are both especially guilty of cronyism. Often times, the board members all know each other very well, and instead of holding each other accountable, more often than not rub each others backs. E. Gordon Gee, president of the Ohio State University, was given a ludicrous pay raise, even after a major scandal occurred under his leadership, and the university was facing budget shortfalls. Why? Because the board members are all closely related, some of them are major contributors to the university, and they all benefit financially from the actions of President Gee. The students however, do not.
Automated customer service lines are the perfect tool to shirk accountability. By running customers through endless levels of red-tape, prompts and low level employees, a business can effectively insulate themselves against the demands of its employees. In today’s modern, globally interconnected economy a company can do this, because ultimately there is no one else. When “The Last Airbender” movie was boycotted, it accomplished nothing, because the production companies Paramount, MTV and Nickelodeon went on with business as usual. Along with that, their parent company, Viacom, was not boycotted. Protestors refused to see “The Last Airbender” but continued to watch MTV, and buy products from other Viacom owned companies. Effectively negating their boycott.
This is a more insidious form of tyranny. It is no less evil, no less dehumanizing, yet because it has no real “violence” associated with it or the masses are given a short-term fix, we fail to see it as such. This is 21st century oppression, this is what dictators and regimes look like now. And we need to resist them as we always have, we must rise up and demand that accountability be restored to all levels of society and government.
In short, we must fight back. Non-violently if we can, violently if we must.