Transcendence as I understand it, in the context of social development, is a complex of processes by which a given individual can interface with society at large and better their lot relative to their prior generation or, perhaps, achieve exponential transcendence by excelling beyond the average; beyond the average as defined by the socioeconomic and cultural complex in which the individual exists.
Bono, the lead singer of U2, described the effects of transcendence as follows, “when an Irish kid looks up at the mansion on the hill, he thinks “you bastard”, when an American kid (USA) looks up at the mansion on the hill, he thinks “that will be me one day”.” There is a good deal of power in that belief, one can argue that it is has been monopolised to a specific social group, one can challenge its use and application – no one can challenge that the belief is powerful. It has moved the US to prominence. Now allow me to grant the naysayers a complete acquiescence and say, as the offer of transcendence has been implemented in the US it has been a total failure due to social inequity – which is untrue in my opinion – but even if it was true - which belief do you see as more powerful, the belief that society is managed and you’ll be placed where you’re placed OR that your fate is your own and if you apply yourself the path to achievement as you define it is yours.
Desiring individuals to climb the socioeconomic ladder stands in contrast and opposed by the Calvinist and Confuciusian social imperatives, in which, societal stasis is integrated – your father was a lawyer, so you are a lawyer. In England, where my personal cultural underpinning harkens from, the Calvinist social imperatives have migrated to governance in a way that has effected a good deal of socioeconomic stagnation. It is my opinion, and the opinion of many more qualified than I, that this social stagnation was causal in the general fall of British economic performance relative to the USA economic performance over the past couple hundred years.
Say the word “Transcendence” and most business people, or people with a market prominence in their thinking related to economy and government, roll their eyes. Transcendence has gotten a bum rap in these quarters because it is heavily associated with big “S” socialism and the myriad of damaging policy initiatives that have emerged from the left “wing” of the political spectrum. Redistributionist policies like a “progressive” tax system. Redistributionist policy always means taking someone’s money and giving to someone else at the discretion of an inherently unaccountable entity called government. Redistributionist policy is founded on the pursuit of “social equality” as opposed to “social equity” and the belief that the “pie” is finite when the “pie” is infinite.
The formalised development of transcendence in government policy provides an incentive to people to pursue betterment, it is very much a belief mechanism within the societal complex. It is a belief mechanism that brings dynamism and vibrancy to society. It drives growth in the individual and by extension, cultural and economic growth in society at large. Belief is only sustainable when it is substantiated, people have to see actions and outcomes with their own eyes, to substantiate the belief.
In the past government has pursued transcendence in a damaging way, they have chosen to make people pay for the progress of others. For transcendent policy to be accepted broadly it must effect benefit for all – a win win. People who have garnered capital want to keep it, people without capital, need capital. The key here is to develop policy to incent people with capital, to direct that capital to emergent individuals – in this way, the holders of capital gain and emergent individuals gain eventually making the transition to affluence and capacity. There are many ways to have people happily contribute the process of emergent individuals, the government needs to be more aggressive in this space.
For an example of transcendence policy, follow this link.