Masters of the Universe: Thoughts on Civil Disobedience, Protest, and Revolution

“Through protests, strikes, and education, Giroux proposes an international social movement that joins together various modes of resistance to illuminate a democratic renewal….” Radical Democracy.

By Sue Ann Martinson  September 26, 2019

After I wrote these last comments about Peace & Love[see below] I read Chris Hedges most recent essay on Truthdig, “Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elite.” So suddenly painting a mural on a garage seems a bit too “boutique-like,” but I see a continuum, a revolution of consciousness that includes peace and love of people and planet, or as the climate strike march so movingly showed us and the world, “We are all connected.”  Some have already experienced what Henry Giroux calls a ‘revolution of consciousness’; others still have yet to see.

32 People Arrested At Climate Change Protest in Washington DC Telesur Extinction Rebellion activists were performing a peaceful action aimed at drawing attention to the global ecological crisis.

Having participated in many acts of nonviolent disobedience, I agree with Hedges. And I have to admit I see the kind of civil disobedience Extinction Rebellion advocates as mainly a role for young women and men by participating in such groups to aggressively send the message that tells our government officials we do not accept their waffling on climate change (or on the abolition of nuclear weapons) —instead of these young people joining the military and going to war, carrying guns and bombing and killing people and hope, because they are soldiers as well, of justice, of peace, who represent the revolution of consciousness Giroux describes.

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Young protester in Melbourne

The ruling elite as Hedges describes it, is beyond hope. We all march obediently, and there is a place for that so many can participate, including young children. But it is disruption of the status quo that upsets the ruling elite most of all because they are afraid of losing their hold over us.

On the back cover of Giroux’s “The Terror of the Unseen” it says “Through protests, strikes, and education, Giroux proposes an international social movement that joins together various modes of resistance to illuminate a democratic renewal….” Radical Democracy. The key is “various modes of resistance.” These various modes exist, but  have not been brought together as a movement. Who would have thought that painting a mural on a garage is an act of resistance, but under Trump’s reign of hate and fear and for some real terror, to refuse to join the hate and fear brigade is an act of resistance.

What Giroux has called a “revolution of consciousness” I have elsewhere called a “sea change” in the words of Shakespeare. Giroux’s wording is more precise. He calls for systemic change, a democratic renewal, naming it radical democracy—a form of democratic socialism—as an end to authoritarianism and American-style fascism and oppression, casino capitalism, and the rule of Masters of the Universe. Bob Dylan’s Masters of War now reap the significant profits of endless war.

What Dylan said still stands, as harsh as it is, and now includes the Masters of the Universe who refuse to do anything about climate change and environmental pollution. Think of the words of his song in relation to endless war, to gun control, and to climate chaos and environmental disasters such as the pollution created by U.S. 1000 military bases and installations worldwide—and the 90 bases in the U.S. with polluted water and land—as well as the bombs dropped that devastate the land in many countries and the corporations who steal the resources of many countries in the world, especially in Africa, along with the desire for Venezuelan oil.

There’s more: The gutting of the EPA; the increase in making of weapons, including nuclear, the blatant racism that devastates us all in what has become a war against children.  The list goes on and on. Impeaching Trump, and also Pence, will certainly help, but is only the beginning.


Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion’
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Here is what I posted earlier with my request to Keep Rise Up Times Alive!

I have been reading Henry Giroux’s new book “The Terror of the Unforseen.” He is talking about cultural violence, the essence of fascism and American-style fascism, state-sanctioned violence, and on the positive side, radical democracy and a revolution of consciousness. And he is talking about the language of hate and fear that Trump uses constantly. All that is in the first two chapters. Being a person who believes in the power of words, I especially liked what he has to say about language:

“As Hannah Arendt has argued, language is a form of action, and that action is often pedagogical. Trump’s discourse makes clear that education is at the heart of politics; it carries the weight of weapons forged in the realm of the symbolic and pedagogical, and changes how people see things, how they invest in themselves and others.”

I have observed how so much now in everyday matters involves cultural violence through language. It affects us all. Certainly in all forms of the media, including films. I hear it in the way people speak, as subtle as it is. Not outright racism or hate language, but use of more violent images and words in everyday conversation as well as advertising. It’s all around us. At the same time, I have seen efforts by people to go out of their way to promote the way of peace and love with honoring races and religions with lawn signs, even with painted garage doors declaring peace and love. There is a counter movement against Trump’s language of hate and fear and the paralyzing effects it creates.


Whether we gather in millions with our wonderful and creative homemade signs as we did on Saturday worldwide, or as a group that gathered to dedicate a garage mural with Peace and Love in many languages,** we use words. Whether we are part of over 3000 actions for Campaign Nonviolence nationwide, including many activities sponsored by Twin Cities Nonviolent. we use words. Sometimes those words are not in our own language since other cultures use their words, too, as we can see from the photos and videos of the Saturday Climate Strike; as we can see from Somali and Muslim neighbors, Hispanic compatriots, as allies of Palestinians, and the courage and persistence of Native Americans around environmental issues. Sometimes we adopt their words: El pueblo unido jámas será vencido.* These words tell stories of love for each other, for the planet, of peace and of hope.

*The people united will never be defeated.

**Minneapolis, 3032 Fremont. LET PEACE & LOVE PREVAIL, Commissioned mural created by BLACKDAZE ( for Twin Cities Nonviolent’s “10 Days Free From Violence” 3032 Fremont Avenue South, Mpls. The mural will wrap around a garage in Uptown, and will have artwork including “Peace” and “Love” inscribed in many  languages.  I went  into the alley to view it. I only wish it were on Lake Street where all could see it.


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The contents of Rise Up Times do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor. Articles are chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Rise Up Times republishes articles from a number of other independent news sources as well as original articles and stories.


  1. Thanks for this essay. One correction: you spelled the Vice Presidents name wrong (probably spell check correction) right before Dylan’s lyrics. Blessings Steve


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