Parents: What Are They Good For?

1845-1945, Benjamin DeCasseres, Clarence Lee Swartz / Thursday, May 11th, 2023
The following essay by Benjamin DeCasseres was taken from the first issue of Revolt (January 1st, 1916), the short lived an anarchist periodical edited by Hippolyte Havel, and published in New York, NY. In its eight issues you can find letters to Revolt from Bill Haywood and Margaret Sanger. You could read a poem from Nietzsche, a poem from Adolf Wolff, a quote from Thomas Paine, an essay by Clarence Lee Swartz, and other items by Max Weber, Octave Mirabeau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Oscar Wilde. The “Advisory Board” was listed as Leonard D. Abbott, Elizabeth Gurly Flynn, Alexander Berkman, Harry M. Kelly, Margaret H. Sanger. Of note, the original was in poor condition and some words were only partially left or completely missing. We have tried to make an informed guess at the missing words, and where we have added our own replacement words, it has been placed in brackets.

Parents: What Are They Good For?

We are in the midst of a revolution of women. It is almost an accomplished fact. But in the great movements, economic and sexual, which are going on all over the world, there is one more revolution to be accomplished.

It is the revolt of the children against their parents. And that will be the most tremendous, the sublimest revolution of all.

It is time the truth was uttered about parents and their attitude toward those they bring into the world by an act of passion. It is time the mask of sentimental lies surrounding the sacredness of parents was slit into a thousand pieces and tossed back into the wardrobe-room of race-fakes.

Parents: What are they good for?

Let every man and woman look into the last recesses of his heart and answer that question fully.

Parents: What are they good for?

Let the squeezed, mutilated, shabby, humdrum, aching days of millions of youths and girls stand up and answer unashamedly.

Parents: What are they good for?

And billions of strangled, mutilated Minds and Passions and millions of shabby Days rise out of their tombs and answer: They should have been hanged before we grew into our sixth year.

Parents: Or the Mania for Mutilation. Millions of human beings might write a thesis with that for a title— a thesis that would make the horrors of a Dostoievsky seem merely a charivari.

Veiled beneath that vaunted sacred love of father and mother there lies a mania for mutilation which for pure diabolism is nowhere matched in nature.

Under the guise of a perpetual act of self-sacrifice the mother becomes the most incurable selfish being that nature has yet created. Motherhood is nature’s supreme diabolistic paradox.

It is always herself she fights for, and never for that child. It is always herself she dies for, and never for the sake of the child. Her love is the very frenzy and insanity of possession.

The father is greater than the mother, because his love-greed in regard to the offspring is not so cruel. Some father will even concede the right of a child to have opinions, ideas and sensations of its own. Motherhood can never ascend to that. It remains forever in the sties of self-worship.

Most children are born into a home. And by home I mean a death-cell. At the moment of birth the murderous machinations of the parents begin. Variation from the parent-type is the one thing to be [feared]. Hence the home. Hence the squirt-guns of [predictability], feigned godliness and prudery which begin their work on the sense and brain of the child just born. And when he first begins to smell it is the rotten stench of sanctity that greets his nostrils.

I accuse all parents of being liars every second in every hour in every day of their lives in the presence of their children.

I accuse every parent of a pantomime of hypocritical mummery from the day a child is born unto them.

I accuse every parent of conspiring against the unique vision and temperament that is born unto them.

I accuse every parent of spiritual, mental, physical murder in seeking to gag the soul of the new-born and to mould it in the image of one or both of them.

I accuse every parent of cowardice before the wide-open look of the child. They fake their personality from the very moment the child looks at them.

(No child ever knew its parents. No parent ever knew his or her child.)

I accuse parents of every physical and mental anguish that boys and girls suffer between the ages of thirteen and twenty.

(If parents only knew of the hate that enforced virgins feel for their parents, whose licentious and unrestrained practices in the marriage bond have obliterated their own early hatreds for their own parents.)

The home, the parent, must be protected at all costs!

Does a girl “go wrong” (that is, does she dare assert the rights of her womanhood and seek sanity away from the insane asylum for perverts called the respectable home?) The first thought in the minds of father and mother is the disgrace that will fall on THEM. A girl— a thing of flesh and blood— is being sacrificed to the Moloch of Respectability for the sake of the parents, those unrestrained and licentious parents, safe in the bosom of the marriage license!

The girl “went wrong”? No. The girl went right. Better one year of full surrender to love and passion and then death in the river than a life of respectable virginity and its inferno of agonies.

Does a boy “go wrong”? He gambles, he drinks, he seduces, he steals. Again the shriek through the cracking walls and falling roof of the House of Lies. “Our reputation! Our reputation! My God! Our reputation!”—that is the cry that mounts to the ironic tomcat squat on the tottering chimney.

No parent ever showed sufficient respect for the child. Love—yes. Respect—never. That is because the love of the parent is the veil of selfishness and egotism, and respect involves self-sacrifice, an abasement in their own eyes of their supreme importance, a division of power.

Love is easier than respect and reaps a richer harvest of lies. To love a child involves no effort. To respect a child one must have ascended high in the scale of emotional and intellectual development.

The parent has no rights which the child is bound to respect. It is in the world without its own consent, bringing with it all the ills that flesh and mind are heir to.

Ancestors, environment, parents stand at the cradle like a menace of death. The social and economic systems under which a child is born have no rights which the child is bound to respect.

A mere flesh and blood asset of the parent and the blood sucking social and religious [society] which the child is shot— what should the [child re]spect? 


The revolution of the child! The new Children’s Crusade! This time they will march to rescue their own souls from the Unholy Sepulchre of their infidel parents.

Youths and maidens and children, you must soon write your Marseillaise, Stifled ones, strangled ones, mutilated ones, dutiful ones, suckled in the House of Fear and raised in the House of Craven Respectability or Leprous Poverty, the time approaches when each and every one must ask the heart:

My parents: What are they good for?

And your hearts will answer: Good for nothing until they are taught to respect, honor and obey us!

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