For the first time in history, all of humanity is interconnected. Imagine the impact of that.
This is a podcast for social geeks in the prime of life who watch the news with a gnawing feeling of emptiness. It is one mind’s attempt to find answers to the most ridiculously big questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Pretentious? You bet.
When we hear about rigged elections in Sub-Saharan Africa, many say: ”Well, what can you expect?”
The underlying assumption is that it is sad but unavoidable that democratic flaws have to be tolerated in immature and poor countries.
Wrong, thinks Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the university of Birmingham, UK. All countries must be measured with the same democratic yardstick.
”Many African elections are actually more advanced than elections in Europe. British elections are very manual and old-fashioned”, says Cheeseman.
Fraud and rigging is not an African problem. All the main tricks described in Cheeseman’s and Brian Klaas’ book ”How to Rig an Election” have been used in Europe and America.
Some subtle ways are still used on every continent, like ”gerrymandering” and putting up high identification and registration thresholds for voters, which typically disfavors minorities, the poor and the less educated.
”In which country in the world every main party has been fined by the electoral commission for breaching campaign finance laws in the last three years? The answer is the UK”, says Cheeseman.
”It is patronizing to think that African nations can’t reach the same level of democracy as Europe has. Look at countries like Ghana, South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius.”
Democracy is also what Africans want. This is what polls on the continent consistently show.
It is of course true that democracy in Africa is young and still feeble in many places. Hence the idea some have that maybe electoral democracy is premature. Maybe there should be another order of events: first wealth and health, then elections.
But this is also a flawed idea, according to Nic Cheeseman. There is no order of events. Democracy and development happen in tandem.
”It is not true that poor people are not able to make informed choices about their future. Look at Zambia and Benin which were very poor when they made their transition to democracy.”
”And there is no particular connection between wealth and the possibility to hold elections.
If you really want to, you can hold a piece-of-paper-and-pen election extremely cheaply.”
Also: holding free and fair elections and building accountability has shown to be a driving force for governments to perform better.
”If we go back to the 70s and 80s, in none of the countries that had the most benign autocrats we can imagine today, like Nyerere and Kaunda, we saw the development of thriving conditions for democracy”, says Nic Cheeseman.
”It’s the curse of low expectations.”
Democracy creates a stronger rule of law, which addresses corruption, which enhances economic growth, which gives rise to stronger civil society. It becomes a virtuous circle.
”The best model for the future is to see development and democracy side by side. The China model is nothing that works in Africa.”
Nic’s personal website: https://profcheeseman.wordpress.com/
Nic’s site Democracy in Africa: http://democracyinafrica.org/
Nic’s profile page at the University of Birmingham: https://bit.ly/3v1yoh8
Nic’s books: https://amzn.to/3tUM9gx
Nic’s Twitter handle: @Fromagehomme
The near-death experience of Dr Eben Alexander is astonishing in its depth, and it is especially interesting since Dr Alexander was part of the mainstream scientific community. He was in a week-long coma, and his brain was all but destroyed. He shouldn’t have been able to experience anything. Yet he visited realms that he describes as far more real than this physical plane. Against all odds he recovered to tell about it. His story has been the key for many other scientists to open the door to a non-physical reality.
”The reason the scientific community has taken my experience so seriously has to do with the documentation of the damage to my neocortex. It should have, by all principles of modern neuroscience, eliminated all but the most rudimentary forms of consciousness. But what I experienced was an extraordinary expansion of consciousness”, says Dr Eben Alexander in this episode.
”And my recovery has no explanation in modern Western science.”
Alexander tells about a timeless existence, first in what he describes as the realm of the earthworm’s eye view. Later a light which served as a portal ushered him into an ”ultra-real gateway valley”. ”I was merely a speck of awareness on a butterfly wing. There were millions of other butterflies. The valley was fertile and lush, no sign of death or decay, there was a crystal clear pool, sparkling waterfalls. It was a real paradise. I had no memory of Eben Alexander’s life. I had no language. I just had this phenomenal experience, which is sharp and clear in my memory even to this day, twelve years later.”
In the gateway valley Eben Alexander was accompanied by a soul who conveyed a profound message: ”You are deeply loved and cherished forever, you have nothing to fear, you will be taken care of.”
”I cannot tell you how comforting and validating that message was. It basically welcomed me home.”
When he reached what he describes as the core realm, language fails almost completely. ”I often use analogies. It was like standing on the edge of a black hole, on the event horizon, where time has stopped and the universe has crystalized.”
Couldn’t it have been a vivid dream? No, says Dr Eben Alexander:
”This existence is dreamlike compared to that. That is far crisper, far more alive, far more real. And modern neuroscience will tell you that if we are to have a dream or hallucination, the details of that experience must be assembled in some part of the neocortex. My neocortex was off, that’s documented.”
For all of this to make sense, says Dr Alexander, you must realize that a huge part of how it all works is reincarnation. ”The scientific support for reincarnation is overwhelming. At the University of Virginia, over 2.500 children’s memories of past lives have been discerned objectively. It completely violates conventional materialistic neuroscience, but that’s because conventional materialistic neuroscience is completely wrong.”
”The scientific community is shifting very rapidly. Interviewers used to try to set me up with a materialist scientist that represented ’the other side’, but it got harder and harder to find anybody that had anything meaningful to say from that camp.”
Dr Alexander’s website features his books Proof of Heaven, The Map of Heaven and Living in a Mindful Universe (with Karen Newell).
He is an adviser to the Galileo Commisson, which advocates ”exploring and expanding the frontiers of science, medicine and spirituality”.
Most of what you think you know about migration is probably incorrect. Listening to professor of sociology Hein de Haas, director of the International Migration Institute, makes one realize that both the media and the politicians have got the whole thing wrong:
- Migration would be less dramatic with more open borders.
- Poverty and conflict don’t drive most of migration, labor demand does.
- The concept of climate refugees has no scientific basis.
”People say I shouldn’t say these things in public”, says Hein de Haas. ”But I think we need to be able to deal with the truth.”
Here are some other no-nonsense quotes:
”The Turkey deal (between the EU and Turkey) shows we aren’t too worried about what happens to refugees.”
”International migration has been remarkably stable over the decades at around three percent of the population.”
”Nine out of ten Africans that move to Europe do so legally.”
”There is a tendency at the UN and other organizations to paint a misleading picture that we are facing a migration crisis. This can actually undermine refugee protection.”
”The main cause of migration is quite simply labor demand. There is a huge level of hypocrisy around this.”
”When borders are relatively open, migrants don’t stay permanently. When borders are harder to cross, they stay.”
”Mobility should be considered a freedom in its own right. And it really doesn’t matter if you use it or not. It’s like the right to vote or run for office.”
Hein’s homepage: www.heindehaas.org
Hein’s book ”The Age of Migration”: http://www.age-of-migration.com
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