HUman RIghts and Democracy
Human rights and democracy are meant to empower individuals, and thereby free them. But today’s world is very far from ensuring human rights. Why? Human rights and democracy are based on the fundamental condition that individuals are acting as free and equal persons in public affairs.
Fact: Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises each person a meaningful role in their own government.
But because of the way we plan our families, people today do not act as free and equal persons. Abysmal levels of child development, which enabled unsustainable population growth and massive inequality across the globe, has degraded our democracies, drowning out each person’s voice and effective role in their own governance.
Our individual voices and votes have been diluted to meaningless by growth. In many democracies, like the United States, it is so crowded that it’s actually irrational to vote. That growth, enabled by the failure to require equitable and personal development and education, has also degraded our ecosystems, compounding the threats to human rights, democracy, and freedom by making the conditions for social cooperation more challenging. Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, saw population growth as a core threat to human freedom.
Fact: Each member’s role in a democracy is, cetus paribus, inverse to the size of that democracy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract 50-51 (Donald A. Cress ed. & trans., Hackett 1987) (1762);
Our current family planning policies, which encourage economic growth irrespective of individual levels of child welfare, fair starts in life, and environmental consequences, have made things worse. The United States is a largely unrepresentative democracy where family planning policies are designed to create large future populations of consumers, workers, and taxpayers, rather than a sustainable number citizens capable of collective self rule. They create people for shopping malls, not town halls.
Fact: To bring the United States representative ratio in line with that which existed at the country’s founding, the House of Representatives would need to balloon to a whopping 5,697 members, or nearly double that of the largest national legislature in the world: China’s National People’s Congress, with 2,980 members. DeSilver, D. (2018).
Is there a solution?
Functional democracies require highly developed citizens, which requires improving birth conditions and seriously investing time, love, and resources into every child born.
There is no way around this. The Children’s Rights Convention was designed to protect human rights that are specific to children, and ensure children’s development. But there have been no serious efforts to link the Convention to better family planning, and actually ensure the Convention’s intended outcomes. We do not apply the Convention upstream, to ensure children are born in sufficient conditions. Because we never never accounted for the role poor family planning plays in creating massive inequality and differences in opportunities in life, we we failed to ensure human rights and minimum standards of welfare and equality for children. And as a result, we never ensured that adults become sufficiently developed to engage in the self-rule of true democracy. Without the requisite safeguard of ensuring serious childhood development, world population has exploded and created a negative feedback loop making it harder and harder to create systems of human rights and democracy. Today the average individual has little or no power over the government, their voices are lost in the crowd, and wealthy persons and corporations have significant control over our lives.
We can fix these mistakes.
We can apply serious child welfare requirements, like the Convention, to family planning systems by making those systems more cooperative, with parents working with their communities to bring children into the best conditions possible. That sort of working together embodies a real social contract, one that brings reasonable people on the left and right together, and ensures every child gets a fair start in life and a chance to become an empowered and accountable citizen. This is a social contract that eliminates unearned benefits and undemocratic influence, which reasonable people on both sides should oppose.
By starting at the source, and using Fair Start family planning to decentralize concentrations of power, including governments, large corporations, and wealthy families and individuals, we can shift resources to empower and free future children.
Children’s right to a fair start in life is the genesis of the social contract, consent, and political freedom. And as such we can obtain that right by all means effective. Having Kids is helping push this process of improving family planning forward, through things like child-first Fair Start order legislation and rights to nature litigation that work together to temporalize and reorient our understanding of things like human rights and democracy, and will build a free future for all. Learn more here.
Democracy in Decline
- Democracy is undergoing an “alarming” decline across the world as a growing number of countries move towards authoritarian rule, according to the Freedom House think tank.
- Attacks on media are increasing, and that is a threat to democracy. President Trump regularly launches public attacks on the news media, including by characterizing “a large percentage of the media” as “the enemy of the people.” Numerous media outlets recently expressed serious concern over the Justice Department’s indictment of Julian Assange, as a threat to a free and independent media. And internationally, freedom of the press is under fire as violence and prosecution of journalists increases.
Human Rights Concerns Affecting Kids
- Nearly 71 million people are now displaced by war, violence at home, according to the U.N.
- Europe is currently witnessing the highest number of crises and conflicts since World War II and children bear a disproportionate burden of these conflicts.
According to the World Report 2019:
- The United States continued to withhold or reprogram humanitarian aid and funding to international bodies, eliminating all contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that aids Palestinian refugees, and significantly cutting US financial contributions to the UN Population Fund.
- More than 2,500 families were forcibly separated at the US border as the Trump administration targeted parents traveling with children for criminal prosecution.
Take a deeper look at the role of family planning in human rights and democracy.