V. I. Lenin

In The Servants’ Quarters

Written: July, 1919
First Published: 1925; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 540-546
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Comrades have brought several Menshevik, Socialist-Revolutionary and other publications from the South that give us a glimpse of the “ideological life” on the other side of the barricades, in the other camp. The Kharkov Mysi of Bazarov and Martov, Gryadushchy Dyen run by Myakotin and Peshekhonov, Bunakov and Vishnyak, Potresov and Grossman, Yuzhnoye Dyelo and Obyedineniye run by Balabanov, S. Ivanovich, Myakotin and Peshekhonov—these are the names of the publications and of some of their best-known contributors.

Even the few haphazard issues of the above-mentioned periodicals produce such a strong and full aroma that one immediately feels that one is in the servants’ quarters. Educated intellectuals who imagine they are socialists and call themselves such, saturated through and through with bourgeois prejudices and fawning before the bourgeoisie—such, if we get down to brass tacks, is that entire clique of writers There are many trends among them but they have no serious meaning from the political point of view for they differ only in the extent to which they are hypocritical or sincere, crude or astute, clumsy or skilled in doing their servants’ duties to the bourgeoisie.


The duty of a lackey involves wearing a tail-coat and white gloves and possessing a civilised appearance and the relevant manners. The lackey is permitted to possess a certain love for the people; this, on the one hand, is inevitable because the milieu that provides lackeys must be in needy circumstances; on the other hand, it is even to the master’s advantage, for it gives him an opportunity to “practise” his philanthropy, in the first place, of course, among those “obedient” sections of the population from which servants, shop assistants and workers are drawn. The cleverer and the better educated the classes that keep servants, the more regularly and thoughtfully they pursue their policy, using their lackeys to spy on the working people, to disunite the working people by granting concessions to a certain part of them, to strengthen their own position and to interest their “faithful servants” in increasing the master’s wealth in the hope of receiving a rakeoff, etc., etc.

Love for the people is permitted the lackey only to a very modest degree, of course, and only on the imperative condition that he expresses humble and servile feelings in addition to his readiness to comfort the working and exploited people. Let it be said in parenthesis that Feuerbach gave a very neat answer to those who defended religion as a source of comfort for people; to comfort the slave, he said, is to the advantage of the slave-owner, while the real friend of the slaves teaches them indignation and revolt, teaches them to cast off the yoke and does not comfort them. The lackey paints and prettifies the artificial flowers that serve to comfort the slaves who are fettered by wage-slavery. Champions of the emancipation of people from wage-slavery tear away the artificial flowers from the fetters they decorate so that the slave can learn to hate his fetters more consciously and more strongly, the quicker to throw them off and reach out his hand for living flowers.

The necessity to combine a very moderate dose of love for the people with a very big dose of obedience and, of protection of the master’s interests that is specific to the position of the lackey, inevitably produces the hypocrisy that is typical of the lackey as a social type. Here it is a case of a social type and not of the qualities possessed by individuals. A lackey may be the most honest of men, an exemplary member of his family, an excellent citizen but he is fatally doomed to hypocrisy because the main feature of his trade is the combination of the interests of the master whom he is “pledged to serve truly and faithfully” and those of the milieu from which servants are recruited. If this problem, therefore, is studied from the political point of view, i.e., from the point of view of millions of people and the relations between millions, one must come to the conclusion that the chief features of the lackey as a social type are hypocrisy and cowardice. These qualities are inculcated by the lackey’s trade, and they are the most important from the point of. view of the wage-slaves and the mass of working people in any capitalist society.


Educated intellectuals who call themselves Mensheviks, Social-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries and what not want to teach the people politics. They had, therefore, to touch upon the fundamental issue of the entire period in which we are living—the conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war. See how they argue on this point.

Mr. P. Yushkevich, writing in Obyedineniye, devotes a whole article to “Revolution and Civil War”. The class of literature — if such it can be called—to which the article belongs may be judged from just the following two statements of the author’s.

’Having as its objective a revolution that is in the interests of the majority and is carried out by that majority, socialism has no grounds F!! to turn to methods [!!!] of the civil war to which a minority that has seized power is fatally doomed ....“The most advanced class of modern society, when it has become sufficiently mature to understand in full its world mission of emancipation and the tasks accompanying it, must throw it (civil war) aside together with other things inherited from historical barbarity ....”

A real gem , is it not ?

Immediately after the Bolshevik revolution the Russian bourgeoisie started seeking agreements and concluding agreements with the foreign bourgeoisie against the working people of their own country. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries supported them. The same thing occurred in Finland at the beginning of 1918. And it was the same in the North of Russia and in the South at the beginning of 1918 when the Constitutional-Democrats, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, in alliance with the Germans, tried to crush the Bolsheviks. The same again in Georgia. The Germans gave Krasnov money and arms. Then the Entente bourgeoisie bought over the Czechoslovaks and Denikin and landed their troops in Murmansk, Archangel, Siberia, Baku and Ashkhabad.

The world bourgeoisie—at first the German and then the Anglo-French (often both together)—made war on the victorious proletariat of Russia. And, then comes this man who calls himself a socialist, who has gone over to the side of the bourgeoisie and who advises the workers “to throw aside” “civil war methods”. Is he not a Judas Golovlyov[1] of the latest capitalist type?

I shall probably be told that Yushkevich is merely a rank-and-file bourgeois journalistic cooly, that he is not typical of any party and they do not accept responsibility for him. That, however, would not be true. In the first place the entire staff and the trend followed by Obyedineniye show. that this particular sort of servility is typical of the entire Menshevik-Socialist-Revolutionary brotherhood. In the second place there is the example of L. Martov. This character is a most prominent (and probably the most “Left”) of the Mensheviks and also a highly respected member of the Berne International who is in agreement with its ideological leader, Karl Kautsky.

Take a look at Martov’s arguments. In the April 1919 issue of Mysi he writes about “world Bolshevism”. He has a thorough knowledge of the literature of Bolshevism and about Bolshevism. And this is what that author writes about civil war:

“In the early days of the war I had occasion to write that the crisis it had called forth in the working-class movement was primarily a ’moral crisis’, a crisis of the loss of mutual trust between different sections of the proletariat and loss of the faith of the proletarian masses in the old moral and political values. At that time I could not imagine that this loss of mutual trust, this destruction of ideological bonds that for the last decades had united not only reformists and revolutionaries but had, at certain moments, united socialists and anarchists and both of them with liberal and Christian workers—1 could not imagine that this destruction would lead to civil war between proletarians ....”

The italics belong to Mr. Martov. He stresses that here he is appraising specifically civil war. It may even be that he is stressing his full agreement with Kautsky who, in any case, argues in the same way about civil war.

In this argument there is so much refined corruption, such an abyss of lies, deception of the workers, and despicable betrayal of their interests, such a hypocritical attitude to and defection from socialism that one is amazed at the amount of servility the Kautskys and Martovs have accumulated in the course of decades of “playing” with opportunism!

Firstly, when Kautsky and Martov pharisaically shed tears over “civil war between proletarians” they are trying to hide their desertion to the side of the bourgeoisie. Actually, the civil war is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. There never has been in history, nor can there be in a class society, a civil war of the exploited masses against the exploiting minority in which some of the exploited have not gone over to the side of the exploiters and fought with them against their own brothers. Any literate person will admit that a Frenchman who, at the time of the peasant uprising in VendĀŽe in behalf of the monarchy and the landowners, had bewailed the “civil war between peasants” would be a lackey of the monarchy, disgusting in his hypocrisy. The Kautskys and Martovs are just such lackeys of the capitalists.

The international bourgeoisie, powerful throughout the world, are crushing the victorious workers of one country for having defeated capital and have the following of some of the deceived, uninformed, downtrodden workers; and such scoundrels as the Kautskys and Martovs are shedding tears over “civil war between proletarians”. These characters have to resort to such disgusting hypocrisy since they cannot openly admit that they are on the side of the bourgeoisie in the civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie!

In the second place, Martov, like Kautsky and the entire Berne International, knows full well that they enjoyed the sympathy of the workers as socialists because they preached the necessity for proletarian revolution. In 1902 Kautsky wrote about the possible connection between revolution and war and said that the future proletarian revolution would probably coincide with civil war to a greater extent than former revolutions. In 1912 the entire Second International solemnly declared in the Basle Manifesto that the coming war would be connected with the coming proletarian revolution. And when that war broke out the “revolutionaries” of the Second International turned out to be lackeys of the bourgeoisie!

In November 1914 the Bolsheviks declared that the imperialist war was likely to he transformed into a civil war. This proved to be true. It is now a fact on a world scale. In speaking of world Bolshevism, Martov is compelled to admit this fact. But instead of honestly admitting his complete ideological failure, the collapse of the views of all those who, with the contemptuous grimace of the philistine rejected the idea of turning the imperialist war into a civil war—instead of this Martov “points” hypocritically to the “proletarian masses” who are supposed to have “lost faith in the old moral and political values”!

The renegades are blaming the masses for their own treachery, but the masses sympathise with the Bolsheviks and are everywhere taking the revolutionary path. According to the “theory” of those who all their lives have sworn loyalty to the revolution only to find themselves in the camp of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat when the revolution came, the masses are to blame for this.

In the third place, the two different theories that existed before the war on the question of the internal struggle within socialism were the following. Kautsky and Martov, like most of the opportunists, regarded the reformists arid the revolutionaries as two legitimate trends, essential wings of the movement of one class. The divergence of these two trends was condemned. Their rapprochement and merging at every grave moment in the proletarian class struggle was recognised as inevitable. Champions of a split, were accused of short-sightedness.

The Bolsheviks had a different view; they regarded the reformists as the vehicle of bourgeois influence among the proletariat, an alliance with them was sanctioned as a temporary evil in situations that were clearly not revolutionary, a break and a split with them was considered inevitable whenever the struggle took on a serious, sharpened form, especially at the beginning of the revolution.

And who proved to be right?

The Bolsheviks.

Throughout the world the war caused a split in the working-class movement when the socialist-patriots went over to the bourgeoisie. After Russia this was to be seen most clearly in Germany, an advanced capitalist country. To defend the “ideological bonds” of the reformists and revolutionaries today is tantamount to giving support to such hangmen of working-class origin as Noske and Scheidemann, who helped the bourgeoisie murder Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Lieb kriecht and kill thousands of workers for their revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie.


[1] Judas Colovlyov—the nickname of Porfiry Golovlyov, a serf-owner, hypocrite and blood-sucker in The Golovlyob Family, a novel by M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin.