Revolt of the Fatherless – Men are Good

​This is a previous version of the article ​originally published in the May 2022 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

All copyrights reserved by the Charlemagne Institute.

The crash of Western civilization can be traced to the state’s surgical removal of the father’s authority and to the feminized blind rebellion that has followed.

Stephen Baskerville









Our conservative elites clearly have no clue why our civilization is collapsing before our eyes. They can provide no explanation for the triumph of the woke left. Nor can they explain why the virus hoax fools huge numbers into further acquiescence in leftist tyranny, plus likely self-harm. Not surprisingly, they offer no way out of our predicament other than more of what got us into it. They react negatively to the left, extending their steady stream of defeats. But the very notion of mounting a counter-offensive seems beyond their comprehension.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson helplessly accuses us all of going “stark raving mad.” “The entire country is now descending into a collective madness,” he writes, wondering “how we collectively lost our minds.” Yet he never explains this collective derangement nor offers any hope for “regaining any semblance of our sanity.”

Likewise fashionable on conservative media are professional psychologists explaining virus hysteria as “mass formation psychosis”. This results from “lack of societal bonding, experiencing life as meaningless and senseless, widespread…anxiety.” A “lack of connectedness” makes people feel “lonely and isolated” with “no meaningful relationships.” Their lives and work suffer from “lack of meaning”.

The psychobabble clarifies nothing and prompts no remedy. It encourages conservative leaders’ existing proclivity to lament and bemoan and do nothing. It also pushes them toward their adversaries, because psychoanalyzing political opponents has a long (and ugly) pedigree on the left. Like pop intellectuals, the media psychologists suggest we withdraw from political engagement where they feel helpless and instead “build local communities” and “parallel structures” that function “as a sanctuary of sanity within the totalitarian world.” As if the totalitarians are going to permit this.

Still, the psychologists are trying. If we are to escape the accusation of “conspiracy theories,” we must account for not simply the machinations of those who want to “reset” the world, but also our own impotence to stop it.

So why did the left win? Why is virus hysteria driving people like lemmings to the sea? And what can be done about it all? A plausible explanation is available in plain English. It also suggests straightforward remedies through cost-free changes in identifiably pernicious policies. The right leadership could well rally the majority to achieve them.


First we must to understand that this is a revolt of adolescents – some superannuated, but adolescents all the same. It represents the culmination of a power shift from the mature to the immature that accelerated during the 1960s: “The times they are a-changin.” “We’re the young generation, and we’ve got something to say.” Both Cancel Culture, with its contempt for civil liberties, and Black Lives Matter, with the violence and destruction it rationalizes, are perpetrated by young militants with a smattering of education from universities controlled by their predecessors from the 1960s.

The media collusion is largely explicable likewise. Reporters and producers are mostly manipulable, twenty-something journalism and political science graduates. I have taught many (including conservative ones) and know how intoxicated they become with their own righteousness and unaccountable power.

Though the young suffer the brunt of nonsensical virus measures, little outrage is heard from the half-educated youth at sacrificing their livelihoods and health. Instead, young militants readily buy into the hysteria.

But why has this generation has been so easily radicalized and why their rebelliousness enjoys such free rein. Why has the older generation lost its nerve? Something subtle but sinister has been at work in the intervening decades, only inklings of which were felt in the 1960s: The young have not simply been “empowered” to revolt against their elders, but many of the elders were never present in the first place. Youth today are not just challenging parental authority; vast numbers have never known much parental authority to begin with.

This suggests the origins of our malaise in something conservatives should understand but do not: government’s systematic destruction of families. More precisely, it demonstrates further fallout from “the most harmful demographic trend of this generation”: eliminating fathers from the lives of tens of millions of children, that long ago transformed poor communities into warzones and now wreaks havoc in middle-class society. Adolescents rage out-of-control because they never had any paternal authority to keep them under control and teach them how to channel their emerging discontents with the world’s imperfections into constructive dissent and productive habits of life.

Fatherlessness (not poverty or race) already accounts for every social pathology among the young: the violent criminality, substance abuse, and truancy that draw police to ungovernable minority and poor neighborhoods, where they themselves face criminalization for fighting crime. Fatherless youth suffer disproportionally emotional disturbance and self-destructive disorders – precisely those that psychologists now associate with Covid lockdowns: depression and suicide. They indulge more in smoking, obesity, and other unhealthy practices. They account for most mass shooters and terrorists.

Then they perpetuate their problems into succeeding generations by siring and bearing more out-of-wedlock children.

In short, while some rise above their origins, fatherless youth are much more likely to be dysfunctional, self-destructive, and – in ways that lack purpose or direction – rebellious. The effect is compounded when entire communities have hardly a father among them over successive generations.

None of this is controversial. Mainstream conservatives quote these statistics. Liberals even jumped on the bandwagon with the elaborate (but useless) fatherhood programs of the Clinton administration (later refashioned into Bush’s equally ineffectual marriage programs). What neither do – in fact, they stubbornly refuse – is fix the problem.


So if people today feel “disconnected,” they may lack the first connection they need to be weaned from the breast: that with their father, whose role is teaching them to engage with the world, conquer their fears and “anxiety,” and channel their insecurities into constructive endeavors alongside others with whom they form enduring associations: family, friends, neighbors, parishioners, coworkers.

Covid hysteria exemplifies how this dynamic exacerbates social ills and stymies remedies. Another psychologist, Mark McDonald, warns about the damage years of quasi-carceral “lockdowns” have on children’s development. Significantly, he blames “parents” for not resisting illogical and harmful government edicts: “Many parents have been complicit in this. They have transferred or…projected their own fears and anxieties onto their children… [and] used their children as a foil to calm their own nerves.” But few children today really have any such “parents”. They mostly have single mothers: government-paid “primary caretakers” who must raise them as instructed or risk having them confiscated. Lacking fathers/husbands, they seek state protection from their own fears.

Now, with fatherlessness overwhelming middle-class communities, a new stage in the devastation emerges. The half-educated intellectualize their dysfunctional rebelliousness using political ideologies, allowing them to collectivize their fury. Radical movements infuse apolitical social resentments and unfocused petty rebellions with ideological coherence, which they channel into political agendas. Affluent fatherless youth rationalize political power grabs by exploiting the havoc and lawlessness that uneducated fatherless youth have been inflicting in poor communities for decades.

In short, social anomie has mutated into systematic revolt. With fathers and men correspondingly emasculated, no effective resistance impedes their Pinocchio utopia.


Why is fatherlessness so debilitating both individually and socially? Because where motherhood is biologically inevitable, fatherhood constructs the social order. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes credited patriarchal authority with a central role in leaving the state of nature and entering civilized society. In nature, Hobbes argued, “the dominion is in the mother.”

For in the condition of mere nature, where there are no matrimonial laws, it cannot be known who is the father, unless it be declared by the mother. And therefore the right of dominion over the child dependeth on her will and is consequently hers.

Only in civilized society – where “matrimonial laws” do operate – does sovereign authority over children pass to the father. Civilization requires fathers.

Today we are reversing this stage of civilizational development and reverting to matriarchy. Our revolt targets both fathers and civilization itself.

The fatherhood crisis results not from impersonal social forces (as still other psychologists would have us believe). It is an insurrection: a deliberate and collective attack, often savage, against actual fathers. The trend has been building for centuries and played out in the ideologies and revolutions of modern history. It has accelerated with new sexual ideologies that target fatherhood (“patriarchy”) directly: feminism, homosexual-ism, and more. But sentimentalized conservatism also plays a role.


If we want help from a serious psychologist who explains the problem in standard English, Howard Schwartz provides it. Schwartz strips away the hocus-pocus from Freud’s inquiry into father-hatred and demonstrates why revolting against fathers (and every other authority) proceeds from our most primal and intimate connections – or rather, from their disruption.

“When we begin our life, a loving mother is the world to us,” Schwartz explains, and “we are the center of a loving world.” She accepts and approves unconditionally our “spontaneous impulses.” Eventually, however, the larger reality intrudes on our cozy comfort zone:

Over time, the outside world, strikingly indifferent to our desires and unimpressed by our importance, makes its presence known to us. Within the family, this outside world is represented by the father, who has a relationship with mother that does not revolve around us. At first, we experience this as a violation and try to eject it, but ultimately we recognize that we will have to understand it on its own terms.

This involves “taking father’s relationship with mother as the basis of a promise”: “If we become like him, learning about and dealing with the world on its own terms, we can regain something like mother’s love, as he appears to have it.” We thus learn to engage with the indifferent world and to do what it requires. We can still recognize its imperfections and exercise our own creativity as we engage with it. All this “offers the realization of one’s potential, or as a vehicle for advancement, or of fame, or as part of a career, or of a moral project.” He continues:

The object, for the father as much as for anyone else, is to become again the center of mother’s love. … The premise of our tradition is that he will gain it through his accomplishments within the indifferent world. … He is creating something that mother values, as a way of balancing what would otherwise be a source of overwhelming dependency. This interdependence can form the basis of a stable, emotionally close relationship.

But all this is premised on one critical assumption: that “the mother appreciates and feels emotionally connected to the father; she loves him.”

This is what we undermine with radical sexual ideology and its institutionalization in governmental regimes like welfare and involuntary divorce, that empower officials to “divide and rule” parents and therefore everyone. It explains why these intrusive machineries turn fathers and their authority into objects of invective and children into narcissistic and nihilistic rebels. As expressed in feminist ideology, “the most striking characteristic of our time is that the mother resents the father,” and resentment (as Nietzsche and others understood) is the most poisonous emotion in politics. With the mother turned against the father, “the way for the children to become again the object of mother’s love is by joining her in her hatred of the father and the attendant wish to destroy him.” Schwartz explains this animosity in terms reminiscent of our current ideological resentments:

Father has not earned mother’s love, in this configuration, but stolen it. His claims of accomplishment have been all subterfuge and lies. The victims of the theft have been all of us children, but especially the marginalized. … He is to be hated for this theft and the marginalized loved in compensation.

This precisely describes today’s revolt, beginning with adolescent children of welfare and unilateral divorce, who almost universally hate their fathers with a hatred that is visceral and irrational.

Further, not only the father himself but the entire regimen of paternal authority as established in civilizational norms is targeted for destruction: “The father replaces unconditional love and acceptance with rules and limits and is therefore the archetypal oppressor,” Schwarz continues. “Liberation is defined by his destruction and rebellion against his rules.”

Getting rid of him…we will be free of the demands and expectations placed upon us…. We will not be subordinate to any roles, rules, or obligations, but will be able to do what we want, act on our whim, in perfect safety, to the accompaniment of mother’s love.

Society becomes a massive collective rebellion. It starts with our individual petty resentments. “We began with everything and should have it still, so if we do not have something it is because it has been taken away from us.” But this merges into our seeming altruism and solidarity with the larger community of the oppressed and marginalized. “Our task, then, is to destroy the father’s power. Then the world will revolve around us with love, as it should,” Schwartz adds. “In doing this, we must support our allies in this struggle, the marginalized, who are seen as the most grievously oppressed.”


Yet fatherless children are not alone in this resentful animus (or anima). Diabolically, their hatred is writ large in our collective Oedipal tragedy, wherein fathers – at least fathers who fall afoul of mothers – are vilified by moralizers of both left and right. “Is there a species on the planet more unjustly maligned than fathers?” observes columnist Naomi Lakritz. “Fathers are abusers, bullies, deadbeats, child molesters, and all-around sexist clods who have a lot of gall wanting a relationship with their children once the initial moment of conception is over.”

While feminists comprise the vanguard, they have tapped into something visceral among conservatives, whose sentimentalization of women leads them to embrace leftist dogma. “The…problem is absent, irresponsible fathers,” declares former senator Dan Coats, without evidence, and Mitchell Pearlstein rails against the “masculinization of irresponsibility,” “abandoned kids,” and “missing men”. Jordan Peterson inexplicably calls men whose children are confiscated “weasels”.

This hostility defies all logic and irrefutable social science. “Every aspect of…the ‘bad divorced dad’ image has turned out to be…an inaccurate and damaging stereotype,” writes psychologist Sanford Braver. “Not only is this myth seriously inaccurate, it has led to harmful and dangerous social policies.” The bipartisan policies reproduce the very enmity that drives them and create the very problems they claim to address by further rupturing bonds connecting fathers with their children and replacing them with functionaries.

Far from alleviating the problem, state machineries routinely and forcibly separate millions of legally unimpeachable fathers from their children, plunder their patrimony, ignore constitutional protections, and incarcerate them without trial or record. From dishonest witch-hunts against “deadbeat dads” to trumped-up accusations of “domestic violence”, governments have, for the first time since the Weimar Republic, orchestrated hysterical vilification campaigns against millions of their own citizens – citizens convicted of no crime and with no platform to defend themselves. Prisons are exploding through not only the criminality of fatherless children but also the criminalization of childless fathers.

Witch-hunts against fathers might well be seen as rehearsals for governments’ current vilification – equally devoid of scientific justification – of millions of their own legally innocent citizens. Measures to trap (“emmerder”) unvaccinated citizens within a maze of legal sanctions eerily resemble divorce courts legislating personalized criminal codes around individuals. Methods for forcibly separating children from fathers are already used against other parents, and Covid hysteria provides a further rationalization. Here likewise, we accept punitive measures that worsen the problem, devised by the same officials who likely created the virus in the first place.

Virus hysteria itself is explicable through the same maternal ideology and exacerbates it. Janice Fiamengo shows how Covid policies are “closely aligned with feminist ideology, elevating feminist values and dismissing masculine ones.” “The state as the all-knowing mother” demands docility from naturally outgoing men, inhibits and prohibits masculine endeavors like work and civic leadership, and appeals to feminine fear, encouraging “a feminized identity, one that values security above all.”

(Strikingly, Fiamengo’s “media-approved covid citizen” resembles Vaclav Havel’s famous greengrocer, obsequiously ingratiating himself with totalitarian authorities by displaying Marxist slogans in his shop window: “She puts covid related signage in her windows pledging that we’re all in this together.”)

This feminized conditioning has long operated in the vast welfare underworld that most people find too dreary to understand. It is the world of social work, child psychology, child and family counseling, child care, child protection, foster care, child support enforcement, juvenile and family courts, plus public education. Its matriarchs are quasi-police civil servants who devour vast resources managing other people’s children. Bureaucrats are now “the hand that rocks the cradle…”

These functionaries pioneered the innovation responsible for the Covid hoax: that “the real power in the 21st century are not the people we elect but those who have gained their privileges through bureaucratic maneuvering,” foremost by creating problems for themselves to solve.

Today’s Covid regimen shares with this underworld its single-minded determination to enforce measures that multiply the very harm they claim to be alleviating. The latest is indefensible, even sadistic demands to inject children needlessly, which many are calling child abuse. But then it is well established that (by eliminating fathers and multiplying single-mothers) the matriarchy’s apparatchiks have been proliferating child abuse for decades. This now includes court-ordered castrations.

Similarly, the eagerness of young radicals to accept potentially lethal injections finds its equally self-destructive sexual equivalent in the hideous self-mutilation already fashionable among avant-garde youth in the name of transgenderism.

On another level, sexual experimentation has longstanding connections with population control. If, as many suspect, the covid virus/vaccine is a bioweapon aiming at population reduction, sexual ideology likely contributed to its development.


What can be done? Quixotic promises to “change the culture”? Interminable philosophizing? Hurling anathemas at “Cultural Marxism” and CRT? Like our wayward children, we too are rendered dysfunctional, debilitated from constructive, concerted action by bromides dispensed by our own parlor intellectuals.

Our civilizational imperative is to get the adolescents under control – not just the Peter-Pan junta controlling the current presidential marionette, but especially the Huxleyan hatcheries breeding successive generations of insurgents.

Mobilizing the adults to forego video polemics telling them what they already know, exercise their rightful authority, and mount a concentrated counter-attack against two intolerable perversions of power will shut down the supply of radicals and prevent them from reproducing their kind.

First, we must expunge from the law the indefensible oxymoron of no-fault justice as applied to marriage and everything else. At a stroke, this devious legal subterfuge decimated two bedrock institutions of western civilization: marriage and common law. It prohibited any legally binding agreement to raise children, while authorizing judicial proceedings (including criminal punishments) against legally innocent people. No free society, no civilization can possibly survive this doubly-poisoned chalice. A half-century after enactment, its malign logic has caught up with us in the revolt of the young.

Rectifying this will facilitate the larger challenge of dismantling the socialist-feminist welfare behemoth, which institutionalizes the malignancy. State-mandated feminization was inflicted first on the poor and then others. Devouring one-fourth of our GDP, it criminalizes breadwinning men, embitters single mothers, empowers radical apparatchiks, and disfigures (morally and physically) innocent children. It also impoverishes all of us, acts as a magnet for immigration, and entrenches leftists in office.

All this is straightforward and costless. It can be achieved not by whinging about “the culture” but by prioritizing focused counter-strikes against the bureaucratic factories now grooming the next generation of insurrectionists. The very process of mobilizing the grownups – foremost the men – will immediately reinvigorate our missing manhood and silence the loudmouths. There are no short-cuts for civilizational survival.

Holding Men in High Regard

Stephen Baskerville is Professor of State Studies at the Collegium Intermarium in Warsaw, Poland, and author of several books on sexual politics, including Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family, and The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Government Power (2017).

Stephen Baskerville

Stephen Baskerville is Professor at the Collegium Intermarium in Warsaw and Research Fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society, the Independent Institute, and the Inter-American Institute.  He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and has taught politics at Patrick Henry College, Howard University, and Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, plus Fulbright Scholarships at Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.  His most famous writings concern the politics of the family and sexuality, and he also writes on political ideologies with an emphasis on radical religious movements and sexuality.  He is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power (Angelico, 2017), and Taken Into Custody: The War against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).  His other books include Not Peace But a Sword: The Political Theology of the English Revolution (Routledge, 1993; full expanded edition, Wipf & Stock, 2018).