The Major and Minor Scales of Integral Politics


Originally published at:

Ken Wilber and Corey deVos take an in-depth look at the “major and minor scales” of integral politics — an inventory of the most critical elements, polarities, and patterns of self-organization that are at play within all of the major political systems across the world, from the rise of civilization to today.


In one of the recent Integral LIfe videos on Integral Politics Wilber refers to his use, in Up from Eden (1981), of the terms “internalist” and “externalist” for the two basic political orientations. He adds that a short while after publication of this book Time magazine published a feature article using the same dichotomoy.

The suggestion here is that he was the first to introduce it and it ended up in a nation-wide publication shortly after he had published it.

I think I have located the article in the Times archive here, it was published in 1983:



However, the article seems to use these terms in a totally different context and meaning.

Wilber’s use of these terms is that externalists see the causes of suffering in the structures of society that oppress; and internatlists see these causes in character and individual effort to improve your lfe. (See Up from Eden , Chapter 19, “Republicans, Democrats and Mystics”)

This Times article covers the two different types of US foreign policy, and uses “externalist” for those who see the enemy abroad, while “internalists” see the enemy within the US borders.

Seems to me to be a totally different use of these terms. Especially in this quote, the meaning is completely opposite to Wilber’s intended use:

The externalists are usually but not always those in power and their supporters.
Internalists are almost always critics of those in power and of their policies.

In Wilber’s model, externalists are Democrats, who usualy oppose vested interests and internalists are Republicans, who usually believe in authority and individual effort.

Is this the correct Times article or is there any other?