A Geographical Introduction to History

By Lionel Bataillon; Lucien Febvre et al. | Go to book overview

PART IV
POLITICAL GROUPS AND HUMAN GROUPS

IN the foregoing chapters we have studied the action of natural conditions on human societies. We have sought for inevitable geographical laws, and found none. We have observed everywhere a great variety of possible combinations of which some only become realities.

At the beginning1 we stated our opinion that the political problem and the human problem are one. In commenting on Ratzel's statement that "society is the bond by which the State is united to the soil", we pointed out that we could not regard society merely as a sort of Jack-in-the-box enclosed in a fixed case--the State--and there sometimes expanding, sometimes contracting.2 We have, in fact, tried to study by themselves the social groups established on their own soil and obtaining their living from it. Such a study is all the more necessary because the State generally arises from the exploitation of the soil, and thus its origin is largely geographical. In principle there is no need, then, to construct a geography of States distinct from economical geography, which itself is closely connected with physical geography. Neither is there any need, in our opinion, to investigate the influence which the geographical environment exercises on States independently of that which it exercises also on men, on the human societies of which States are only one of the expressions or, we might say, one of the faces.

Nevertheless, it will perhaps be interesting to review certain facts which are really political, so as to mark the nature of their relations with the constant geographical factors, if only for the sake of clearing the ground of a certain number of obstructions. To this review we now devote the chapters of this fourth and last part.

____________________
1
Introduction, Chap. II, paragraphs IV, V.
2
p. 25.

-295-

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