An Integral Assessment of President Joe Biden

The following was prompted by a question that has bothered me for some time. How can a President of the United States who, by mainstream accounts, is a decent, uncorrupt, God-fearing, devoted family man, and all-around good guy, embrace and execute atrocious policies in both domestic and foreign domains while apparently oblivious to the hypocrisy and double standards involved? Here is my attempt at an answer using the Integral framework of multiple intelligences.

An Integral psychograph of Joe Biden:*

⦁ Cognitive: Orange level 5, formal operational, (Piaget)
⦁ Worldview: Amber/Orange level 4.5, Mythic/rational, (Spiral Dynamics, Jean Gebser)
⦁ Faith: Amber level 4, Conventional (Fowler)
⦁ Moral: Amber/Orange level 4.5, Law and Order/social contract (Kohlberg, see pg. 3)
⦁ Ego-identity: Amber level 4, Diplomat (Cook-Greuter)

Biden’s overall center of gravity at 4 - 4.5 helps to explain what appear to people at higher levels to be grossly immoral ideas and decisions (complicity with genocide, proxy war, interventionism, brutal anti-immigrant policies). At the Amber level, the individual is closely identified with his religious/national/ethnic group. In Biden’s case, that’s Roman Catholicism, patriotic American, Democratic Party, and white privilege. The basic polarity is us vs. them. This explains Biden’s inability to take the Palestinian point of view (or Russian or Chinese), his willingness to send the US military to any location on earth to reinforce American global dominance, refusal to negotiate important issues with nations deemed official enemies, and to bomb any group or country that won’t do as it’s told (Syria, Yemen).

Personality assessment

The foregoing lines up pretty well with this personality assessment of Biden.

In my opinion, the assessment of Biden as a “conciliatory extravert” provides a partial key to understanding his hypocrisy, double standards, hawkish foreign policy, increasingly conservative and brutal immigration policy, and discriminatory refugee policy (racism?). Extraverts are not strong on critical introspection that might propel them to the next higher level of development in the last 4 lines listed above. Biden’s thinking is almost entirely taken up with partisan political considerations on domestic issues and dominated by the “Washington Consensus” (see Wikipedia) and American hegemonic interventionism in foreign policy.

Conciliators are not inclined to challenge prevailing norms or ideologies in any significant way (contrast Ralph Nader, Cornel West, et al.); their primary concern is to fit in. Working across the aisle, compromise, and incremental change are among Biden’s political strategies. This explains how he could stand with Mitch McConnell yesterday as MM announced his exit from the position of Senate minority leader. That’s the same corrupt “friend of mine” who made it his mission over the last 15 years to prevent an Obama second term, to block every Democratic initiative that he could get away with including Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and packing the Supreme Court with ultra-conservative justices.

The country needs bold progressive leaders at levels 5 and above. Sadly, in the upcoming election, no such person will be on the ballot for president.

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How about the word “polarity”? As a thought experiment, try putting yourself in the Oval Office (abstracting from the need to win an election in the first place), then start detailing all the sincere, single-minded, high-integrity and completely compassionate policies you would implement with respect to resolving the Middle East conflict, regulating immigration, reducing street crime, assuring clean and affordable energy supplies, managing national defense, etc. I will be very excited to hear how taking the Russian perspective will resolve matters in the Ukraine in a way Ukrainians can embrace. Likewise, it will useful to know how taking the Chinese perspective will enhance security in Taiwan.

I’ve been doing these sorts of thought experiments myself for years. It’s a great way to begin to grasp how systems work. If you put the need to get reelected into the mix or the need to get Congress to pass budgets and the courts to approve laws and regulations, the challenges get more challenging. The degrees of freedom available to a POTUS may be considerable, but even at that level, there are limits.

As for the 2024 election, I’m gearing up for 2028 and beyond. This one looks like a train wreck already, and my systems thinking is pointing to local action and non-governmental initiatives as the best change levers in the post 2024 cycle.

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This is interesting. I’d be interested in the comparison with Trump.

Though as with most social science numbering system, it’s all just so many opinions attempting to wear the guise of science. For example “complicity with genocide”, “interventionism” seem to be just opinions, then assign those opinions a number to make them look scientific. The fact is that Biden withdrew our military from a war it had been in for two decades, something that only he and Obama has done this century (and Biden was Obama’s VP). I remember 2008 very clearly because it was my deciding factor to return to the United States from living abroad. Out of ALL the many candidates in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 ONLY the Obama-Biden ticket has reduced our overseas military activities. The only exception being candidates who had negligible chances of being elected. What war has Biden started that I don’t know about? Or are you talking about providing arms to Ukraine? if you are talking about Ukraine, I’ll go directly to Red and tell you to get bent. The Poles, Slovaks, Czechs, Slovenians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians and let us not forget the Ukrainians have all felt the Genocide from Russia in my lifetime and I personally know many victims of Russian Imperialism, so any position that is not firmly standing against Russia and with the United Slav peoples of the rest of Europe is just ill informed and frankly cowardly. There. That’s my red about criticism of Biden supporting Ukraine.

Other than Ukraine, I fail to see anywhere that Biden has expanded military influence.

I also don’t see how “taking the Palestinian point of view” would make him less “polar”. Isn’t taking one side over the other the definition of polarity? In the case of the Palestinian “side” - this would be an even greater Polarity because the Palestinian position is far from being balanced itself. Those Palestinians who want peace with Israel are in the minority, so you seem to be saying that if Biden does not want open war with Israel, he is not taking the Palestinian side and is thus “unbalanced and hypocritical”.

I also don’t see how wanting the US to be more involved in supporting Palestine isn’t hypocritical when you also dock Biden for expanding US influence abroad. Or is this just a matter of “whatever he is doing, it is wrong and I don’t need to be consistent in my own position”

“White Privilege” is another one. Let’s just throw that jingoism out there to signal how aware we are, eh? He is white and he does have privilege - just as you are and you do. Does that make you hypocritical? Unless your photo is lying. The only thing that is hypocritical about being white and priviledged is when white priviledged males point the finger at others for being so.

I was originally just going to say something like “OK, now do Trump” or something equally light hearted - but the more I got into the actual things you were saying, the less they made sense. People on both the right and the left tend to take extreme positions and then try to label the center as unbalanced. The perspective is “i am the center and everything I think makes sense and is perfectly reasonable, so therefore this guy is off balance” or worse “My ideas and behaviors are completely congruent and consistent, so therefore anyone disagrees with me on a point is obviously hypocritical”. Adding numbers to this thought process does nothing to make it valid.


You wrote: “I will be very excited to hear how taking the Russian perspective will resolve matters in the Ukraine in a way Ukrainians can embrace.”

If you are an Integralist, as I assume contributors to this page must be, aren’t you supposed to try to take the perspective of all significant parties to an issue or a conflict? Yes, there is a Russian point of view on Ukraine which should have been taken seriously long ago by the US. To inform yourself about this, I recommend the writings of independent experts such as John Mearsheimer, Jeffrey Sachs, and Noam Chomsky. Youtube video talks and interviews by them and many others are also available.

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Quite the opposite. The United States took the Russian position far too seriously starting in the 1990’s when we tried to join with them as friends and gave them several hundred billion dollars as a gift to rebuild their economy after the disaster they created for themselves.
The Russian point of view is that they have the RIGHT to occupy all the way to Berlin and Prague again and to massacre any populations who disagree with them.
I am sorry but I have looked at it from that point of view. Not only can I not go along with it - since it has come to the death of over half a million people and probably over a million including civilians - It’s time to be far more aggressive to people pandering to this point of view that we should “take the Russian point of view” - probably out of fear, cowardice hyperintellectualization and spiritual bypassing - rather than standing with people who are literally defending their right to survive as a people.
I also look at it from the point of view of actual Russian people who have self exiled and simply cannot go along with their own country’s party line, primarily out of a fear for their own survival but also they would prefer to be more like their Western Slav brothers and sisters and included within the community of Europe, not enemies or conquerors.

I am sorry, but to fail to recognize what a party or group of people are actually telling the world is not 'seeing their point of view" but quite the contrary - trying to put a gilded fringe around their own message so that one does not have to see how ugly it actually is.

Going to Eastern and Central Europe and talking to people who lived during the Soviet Occupation so you can get a fact based perspective on what Russians (or at least the aggressive faction in charge) want.
Or even better, going to Georgia or Kazakhstan or any one of the dozen countries Russians themselves fled to in order to escape the madness of Putin. Please explain to them that they should "take the Russian point of view and not assist Ukraine.

Chomsky is an isolated intellectual who probably hasn’t met real normal people in decades, much less real Russians.
Since you mention Youtube:
Here are two examples of Russians who represent the millions who disagree with their own country’s official policies. They represent the millions who went into exile rather than die in pointless human waves in a vain attempt to conquer their Slavic brothers.
Though i already understand what you are probably thinking: Their views are not valid because they are not PhD’s and have not published per reviewed theses. In order for their points of view to be validated, they would first need to be accepted by western academics

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True dat. I’ve been studying the Russian point of view since the era of Fischer-Spassky. I have genuine admiration for Russian culture. However, Russian political culture is paranoid going back to being invaded and enslaved by the Mongols and Tatars in the Middle Ages, not to mention not-so-friendly visits more recently from Napoleon and Hitler. So I get where they are coming from. That does not mean, however, that I want to see Russia overrun and colonize all of its neighbors just to make Russian leadership feel better about their strategic situation.

A good book I picked up (recommended by someone here) is G. Rifkind & G. Picco, The Fog of Peace: how to prevent war. In that book, they suggest empathy, which they define as understanding where strategic opponents are coming from. They contrast this with sympathy, which is agreeing with what your opponents are doing. By those definitions, I am very empathetic with Russian thinking, but not especially sympathetic.

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I think also there is a big gaping hole in the theory and conflation of people with political and economic organizations.

Is it actually possible to empathize with microsoft, for example? If empathy is defined as understanding or sharing the feelings of another, is it even possible to empathize with entities when it is factually not possible for those entities to have feelings beyond what we halucinate and project onto them?

In these discussions “Russia” is being discussed as if it were the people of Russia, when it is not. It is not possible to know what Russian people feel about the topic. Even if you get them drinking in private - there is such a long and brutal history of friends ratting out friends that no one dares say what they really feel even in private. So the feelings of Russians who remain in Russia is a great unknown. Any “seeing Russia’ side” is mostly hallucination and projection onto Russians who are unable to say what they really feel on pain of death or imprisonment.
We do however know the feelings of Russians who have left Russia. They have accepted the consequences of letting their true feelings be known. So we can empathise with exiled Russians.
With this in mind - its impossible to seriously consider empathising with Russia as a political entity under Putin. Unless we just more accurately say “empathize with Putin” instead of “Russia”. Russia as a culture and People are either against Russia as Putin while living aboad or living inside Russia in silent terror.
If you want the full Truth its necessary to know the mindset of Slavic people and then infer or extrapolate this onto Politics. “Russia” as a people would probably very much like to return to how it was in 2013 and be allowed to just not be pawns in Putins ambitions for global domination. Russia as a people dont want to be conscripted and dont want to occupy foreign lands much less die trying to kill their Ukranian cousins. They would very much like to just live off a few scraps tossed from the tables of Russian oil oligarchs and be left to live their lives in peace. Well, except Siberia. Of course they want to keep Siberia and the Asian people in Siberia. They are considered Russian in some ways but not really and their feelings are pretty much ignored in any “Russian point of view”

Sure. I know a lot of people who work for, or used to work for Microsoft. Most of my students would like to work for Microsoft. Anyone with an retirement account also has MSFT in there somewhere. So I don’t especially see Microsoft as the locus of evil in the world today. When their products and systems work better than someone else’s, I use them. When something else is better I use that. (As in yesterday afternoon when I downloaded Ubuntu 22.0.4 to do some technical work my Windows laptop cannot handle). Microsoft itself is a system, but the people who work there are people. When it comes to cloud, I teach AWS over Microsoft Azure, for the simple reason that AWS gives our students a better deal. It’s not like Amazon people are especially nicer or friendlier or have higher vMemes or anything. It’s just that their system does more for my system.

On the Russia front, it’s remarkable that post WWII, Germany and Japan went from hated enemies to US allies in fairly short order. It’s not hard to imagine having friendly relationships with Russia in some future world also. But German and Japanese militarism needed to be stopped dead and rooted out before the peacemaking could begin. Sadly, power is the only language Putin understands. His regime will need to crack to allow a better future for Russia. Putin is hoping our regime cracks first. He may be right about that.

My assumption that the respondents to my “Integral Assessment of President Joe Biden” are Integral thinkers was wrong. Over and out, gentlemen. Enjoy your confirmation biases.

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And you are the judge of who is “integral” exactly, why?

Sri Aurobindo, presumably, was an integral thinker. Here is a passage from a biography of Sri Aurobindo:

“… during the second world war, when it appeared that Hitler was going to conquer the world, he publicly declared that Hitler was acting as an instrument of dark Asuric (i.e. undivine) forces, and that the success of Nazism would mean the enslavement of mankind to the tyranny of evil, and a setback to the course of evolution, especially to the spiritual evolution of mankind. Accordingly he gave his full moral and spiritual support to the Allies, made some financial contributions in response to the appeal for funds, and encouraged those who sought his advice to participate in the mobilization of military forces against the Nazi-Fascist aggression.” - H. Chaudhuri, Sri Aurobindo: prophet of the life divine.

The good old “Everyone who doesn’t fully agree with me has confirmation bias.” Integral POV.

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Actually, an integral position is to recognize all perspectives but not to treat them all as equal - some perspectives are better than others. Taking all perspectives equally is a green perspective. I’m not sure about all the names, but I suspect most are coming from a green perspective.

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