The Economist Intelligence Unit recently released their 2010 Democracy Index report. They titled it Democracy in Retreat. Let me quote from page 2 of the report:
“Disappointments abound across many of the world’s regions. Authoritarian trends have become even more entrenched in the Middle East and much of the former Soviet Union. Democratisation in Sub-Saharan Africa is grinding to a halt, and in some cases is being reversed. A political malaise in east-central Europe has led to disappointment and questioning of the strength of the region’s democratic transition. Media freedoms are being eroded across Latin America and populist forces with dubious democratic credentials have come to the fore in a few countries in the region. In the developed West, a precipitous decline in political participation, weaknesses in the functioning of government and security-related curbs on civil liberties are having a corrosive effect on some long-established democracies”.
History is an extraordinary long-standing experiment. Its most important lesson is the fountainhead of wealth and progress. A thorough review of the tides of civilization from the Dark Ages to the present point towards an irrefutable conclusion: freedom and knowledge. A mind that is free to explore, experiment, and learn, and that owns the product of its thinking drives wealth creation and progress. An enslaved mind doesn’t.
How does this relate to innovation, bottom-up or top-down? Be my guest; connect the dots.