Item Link: Access the Resource
Date of Publication: February 22
Year of Publication: 2023
Publication City: Seattle, WA
Publisher: LA Progressive/Roundtable
Author(s): Carter Dillard
How do we win the secret wars? Disclose your views on these topics. Those blocking freedom for future generations win the secret wars by keeping them secret.
There is a conflict between ecocentric people struggling for freedom, and anthropocentric people threatening that freedom. This conflict, which happens beneath the surface of most media, constitutes a “secret war” for what the future of Earth will be.
This secret war involves groups of people across the world using ecocidal pro-growth and inequitable family policies, as well as anthropocentric environmentalism, to quietly undo the progress that the world seemed to be making on multiple fronts: child equity,climate crisis mitigation, animal protection, as well as ensuring functional democracies. These groups involve many nonprofits that are knowingly undoing with one hand the success they claim to be making with the other. This last category of undoing—regarding our democracies—makes these family policies a secret war on freedom as well.
The Conduct of War
Is it hyperbole to say war? The almost five children a week murdered by their own parents in the U.S. alone, some slowly tortured to death through beatings, starvation, burnings, etc. because of our pro-growth approach to family policy with no parental readiness standards are victims of that war. So are the children who lose the birth lottery bad enough to be born into horrific poverty, at best statistically destined to work for the children of millionaires and billionaires who will control their lives based on a system of random birth inequity that is backed by violence.
That’s the servitude of a war.
It would feel like a war to be part of the non-human animal families and communities, parents and their children, exterminated by the trillions as the wave of human growth rolls over them. And who has the ability to change any of this? Not the average citizen. It’s irrational to even vote in things like national elections where, thanks to family policies, there are so many voters that each vote is pretty much irrelevant. In such cases, money—made on the same unsustainable growth—is what speaks.
Constitutive Policies Counter the Children’s Rights Convention
These family policies (which might be called constitutive or de-constitutive) do nothing to ensure that all children are born into conditions that comply with the United Nations Children’s Rights Convention—the minimum children need to comprise democracies—but instead push children into horrible conditions with no minimum levels of welfare, something done to ensure economic growth and to avoid “baby busts” or declining fertility rates. This puts wealth in the hands of a few, argues Nobel Laureate Steven Chu.
These policies operate under the lie that the act of creating other persons is a matter of the personal freedom or privacy of the creators; i.e., parents. In fact, creating new human beings is not personal; rather, it is interpersonal in nature. Bringing new people into the world shapes the future we all share. The notion that this is a private matter was created by the wealthy and powerful elites who do not want to pay their fair share to ensure children’s equality of opportunity.
These policies, designed around a system premised on unsustainable growth, aim to prepare children, already suffering from vast inequality, to become consumers and workers for shopping malls rather than preparing them equitably to grow up to become effective citizens in democratic town halls. These inequitable policies have created a fantasy world of self-determination—freedom to take part in markets—while stealing the power each voice should have in true democracies.
Groups like Fair Start Movement (where I serve as policy adviser), Stable Planet Alliance, Rejoice Africa Foundation and others are blowing the whistle on these policies and their devastating impacts, and treating the right to an ecosocial fair start in life for all children now and in the future—as an overriding basis to take back the wealth—by all means effective—in order to fund better family policies as the most effective way in the long run to protect children, non-human animals, democracy, and the environment.
Why “by all means effective?” Before some of the recent literature delving into the history of population policy, most academics and policymakers assumed political obligation—the need for citizens to follow the law—came from top-down systems like constitutions or the United Nations. But if systems of governance should actually derive from the people, that would make no sense. Instead, the systems that account for how we are born and raised would primarily or even exclusively account—bottom up—for our power relations, power rising up from the people themselves. And it’s very clear the top-down systems in place now have failed to protect us from things like the climate crisis and vast inequality. Why did they fail?
They committed what is called the constitutive fallacy—basing our obligation to follow the law on things like written constitutions rather than just and sustainable family policies that actually empower people to constitute just nations. To do that, to constitute, means being sufficiently other-regarding or ecocentric enough (perhaps using the baseline test below) to respect the agency of, rather than to exploit, other people and the nonhuman world our mutual thriving requires.
They assumed the borders of human power were defined by lines on a map, rather than the norms that account for our creation and rearing. The latter is what constitutes us. They never accounted for actual power relations because they never accounted for their creation, through functional family policies (based on a simple baseline test) meant to actually empower people while disempowering no one.
For example, these top-down systems never dealt with children’s need for nonhuman habitats protected by climate restoration, nor the vastly disparate impact on impoverished children of color from refusal to meet those needs. People like Peter Singer have relied on these top-down systems that begin with the appropriation of the nonhuman world and future generations, even when they undo the sort of outcomes—like animal liberation—Singer promotes.
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