1938 | Moscow

Correlation Versus Causation

Joseph Stalin on the chicken and egg of development.

Geographical environment is unquestionably one of the constant and indispensable conditions of development of society and, of course, influences the development of society, accelerates or retards its development.

But its influence is not the determining influence, inasmuch as the changes and development of society proceed at an incomparably faster rate than the changes and development of geographical environment. In the space of three thousand years, three different social systems have been successively superseded in Europe: the primitive communal system, the slave system, and the feudal system. In the eastern part of Europe, in the USSR, even four social systems have been superseded. Yet during this period, geographical conditions in Europe have either not changed at all or have changed so slightly that geography takes no note of them. And that is quite natural. Changes in geographical environment of any importance require millions of years, whereas a few hundred or a couple of thousand years are enough for even very important changes in the system of human society.

It follows from this that geographical environment cannot be the chief cause, the determining cause of social development, for that which remains almost unchanged in the course of tens of thousands of years cannot be the chief cause of development of that which undergoes fundamental changes in the course of a few hundred years.


Joseph Stalin

From Dialectical and Historical Materialism. Under Stalin’s dictatorship the USSR was transformed into an industrial and world power. In 1948 the government announced the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, which sought to protect and improve the Eurasian climate through the creation of 5.7 million hectares of new forest. The plan collapsed after Stalin’s death in 1953, with about 20 percent of the plantings completed.