In the middle of the twentieth century world leaders misinterpreted the right to have children under Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure a particular level of continued population growth to grow their base, to reinforce power structures, and to evade collective obligations to invest more in kids. Their family planning systems ignored the physical borders of human power and were designed as preconstitutional or illegitimate, to create lots of economic inputs for shopping malls, not politically empowered citizens with influential voices for town halls. The systems isolated parents, and required no minimum level of welfare at birth or the development of prosocial behavior in children, in violation of the Children’s Rights Convention, no level playing field between rich and poor kids, and no environmental sustainability. Public interest mostly groups went along with this plan.
That move fundamentally created the ecosocial crises we face today, including the climate crisis, massive inequality, horrific child abuse and neglect, and failing democracies where the average voice does not matter. It also reinforced a fallacy, the constitutive fallacy, that we can abstractly derive just systems without going upstream, to the norms that account for the first creation of social relations. In doing so it gutted the possibility of consensual governance, or freedom from the power of others (or most accurately, relative self-determination).
The Fair Start movement was designed to correct that mistake, and promote child-focused and ecosocial Fair Start family planning centered around parental readiness, collective planning to ensure birth equity and a level playing field for all kids, and a universal ethic of smaller and more sustainable families. That is the correct interpretation of Article 16.
Fair Start is the first and overriding human right – the one on which all other rights depend – and it is the genesis of freedom. We can achieve a just transition towards by incentivizing better family planning though taking the resources from the concentrations of power that created and benefited from the crises we face today. Why? Because we first physically constitute just communities by limiting and decentralizing power, and future children have a right to those resources. That – a just claim to family planning incentives as future child entitlements – is the key to qualitative optimal world populations / democratic communities.
Fulfilling that claim means liberating the most numerous and vulnerable entities in the moral universe – those that will live in the future. Nothing has a greater impact in comprehensively maximizing social justice, and ensuring the transition involves a struggle between free people who promote Fair Start and fundamental justice, and preconstitutional people, or precons, who do not. We can tell the difference between the two by simply asking a few questions.