The Sociological Historiography of Charles Tilly
A dialectical tension pervades B. G. Mogilnitsky’s essay, “Some Tendencies in the Development of Contemporary Bourgeois Historical Thought,” 1 in that he seems to be saying two different kinds of things about bourgeois historiography at odds with each other. I do not believe that statements seemingly at odds are immediately self-canceling. On the contrary, statements that express an inherent tension sometimes serve us better than those that do not conflict.2 Thus, social structures are both stable and changing at the same time; the Old Testament covenant of God and Israel is both an agreement between two parties and a gift from one party to the other; and societies are both individual and non-individual. What we need are concepts that are able to encapsulate the inherent tension in each such pairing.3 But, on the other hand, not every tension need be admissible. And, I must confess, I have my doubts about the one pervasive in Mogilnitsky’s essay, namely, that bourgeois historiography is both the causal result of certain social factors and is, at the same time, an ideological instrument of bourgeois class-interests and the imperialism of the western states.
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