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Quotes About Control And Domination

Updated on October 20, 2020
Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen, a lover of the written word, has a master's degree in English literature and enjoys finding unique and poignant quotes.


While writing this hub, we asked a spectrum of colleagues, friends and acquaintances for reminiscences regarding times in their lives where they had been subjected to the exploitation of authority. Thus, several of our anecdotes spring from such recollections.

We are destined to dominate someone or be served by another; either way it’s a safe step to heaven. Dave Allen

When subjected to the wisdom of the powerful we must laugh and cry in secret. John Sargent

I will take one hand and lead you with the other, I will teach you one language and you will speak another, and you will die for no other reason but for another. Carl Denton

Individual Suppression

In her gripping and candid memoir, Inside Scientology, ex-scientologist Janet Reitman recounts: In my opinion, internal policing made people more paranoid than productive and alienated people from each other. … Growing up in the church, I had never realized outright the importance of my own individuality and how valuable it was.

Any time you had an individual thought or opinion that was contrary to Scientology teaching, you were told you had an “overt”, or misunderstood word. I was now realizing this was just to stop you from challenging them on any level. It was nothing but suppression of free thought.


The Motorcar Removed By Royal Request

As a young man, Peter Townshend, later best-known for his part in the 60s pop music group "The Who", bought an old hearse as a means of transportation.

One morning, he looked out his window to find the hearse had gone. When he inquired, he was told the queen mother had voiced distress at having to pass a hearse on her daily rides. It saddened her, reminding her of the death and funeral of her late husband, King George VI. Hence she ordered it be removed.

Note: (A hearse is a car that is adapted to carry coffins)

Do It My Way
Do It My Way | Source

Rita Moreno Recalls

Even in some fine marriages, early patterns can become profound and destructive. Having married Leonard Gordon, a doctor somewhat older than herself, Actress Rita Moreno soon began to sense he perceived his role in their union as, to some degree, that of a dad to a little girl. She recounts in her book, Rita Moreno a Memoir:

There had always been a certain amount of power push-pull in my marriage. … One morning, Lenny walked into the kitchen while I was peeling a banana. He watched me pull on the stem for a second, then snatched the fruit out of my hand and said,

“That’s not the right way to peel a banana.”

Then he opened a drawer, took out a paring knife, and began to cut the stem. For whatever reason, this was the one time out of many when I was being shown the Lenny way, “the right way”, as opposed to the Rita way “the wrong way”, that I chose to plant a flag, declare it my territory, and demanded “Off.” There ensued a 20-minute argument in which Lenny continued to insist that there were right and wrong ways to do things.

A friend in power is a friend lost.

— Henry Adams

A Predatory Professor

Long-time criminal lawyer Ben Cason, as a law student during the 1980s, took one course taught by a female professor who had been the first woman admitted to her law school during the 1940s. A few random comments she made indicated her efforts to gain respect had involved a long struggle. Echoes of this early disdain were reflected in her differing treatment of male and female students.

While firm with everyone, she berated males for even the most minuscule errors. Ben, having made a mistake when called on for an answer was rebuked by the professor: “Mr. Cason, do you genuinely believe you have the ability to join the legal profession?” Ben hesitated, then with a half-smile said, “I do believe so, professor, despite snipers like you. In fact, I think you might have redoubled my effort.

For the mighty even to give way is grace.

— Aeschylus

Wealth As A Weapon

During her university days, Ida Moss worked long hours in a gourmet shop. One woman seemed to revel in striding into the shop a few moments before closing, then browse about with deliberate slowness. Still, the bosses tolerated this in that she always spent a good deal of money.

Once, Ida, frantic to study for a final exam the next day, greeted this customer at the door, then said, “I’m sorry, Madam, but we truly need to close now.” The customer, waving her away, replied, “You close at five, my dear, and its three minutes to. Given the prices you charge, I will stay here as long as I choose to. ”She chose to stay almost an hour, then left, having bought nothing.

Power can corrupt but absolute power is wonderful.

The eagle suffers little birds to sing. Shakespeare

Quotes By Eric Hoffer

Power is always charged with the impulse to eliminate human nature, the human variable, from the equation of action. Dictators do it by terror or by the inculcation of blind faith; the military do it by iron discipline; and the industrial masters think they can do it by automation.

Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man’s spirit than when we win his heart.

It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.

The benevolent despot who sees himself as a shepherd of the people still demands from others the submissiveness of sheep.

Nero: 5th Emperor of The Roman Empire


Autocrats And Despots

The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks. Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Every country should realize that its turn at world domination is instigated because its rights coincided more or less with the character or progress of the epoch and will terminate with the change brought about by that progress. Juan Ramon Jimenez

Power worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. George Orwell

The first principle of a civilized state is that the power is legitimate only when it is under contract. Walter Lippmann

Most men, after a little freedom, have preferred authority with the consoling assurances and the economy of effort which it brings. Walter Lippmann

New faces have more authority than accustomed ones.

Every ruler is harsh whose rule is new.

Where might is master, justice is servant.

Omnipotence: The Crucial Components

The wise become as the unwise in the enchanted chambers of power, whose lamps make every face of the same colour. Walter Savage Landor

No man is wise enough or good enough to be trusted with unlimited power. Charles Caleb Colton

Omnipotence is bought with ceaseless fear. Corneille

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is more power. The prize of the general is not a bigger tent, but command. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Life is a search after power, and this is an element with which the world is so saturated and there is no chink or crevice in which it not lodged. Emerson


Priorities Skewed: Religious Robots

Stefanie Ross recalls two experiences which alienated her from a fundamentalist church: Having participated in a Sunday morning worship service, she told her minister she would be unable to attend the day’s later meeting, due to her being the cellist in a small orchestra which would be performing that evening. Gripping her forearm and giving a warning glare, her minister said: “Do you want to go to hell, Stefanie? You know if you miss even one service by choice, that act will doom you.”

She went to her concert.

That incident spurred doubts she had begun to have regarding the rigidity of views held by this church. The second incident confirmed her decision to free herself from this suffocation.

On an evening when a deaconess was leading a Bible study, Stefanie got a call from a sight impaired student friend who was somewhat reliant on readers. This friend was near tears because her reader had cancelled, leaving her no means of completing the work for her upcoming presentation. Stefanie promised she would come through, and her friend thanked her deeply.

Then, as a courtesy, Stefanie phoned the deaconess to explain why she would not be there. To her amazement, the deaconess almost shrieked, “How callous and mean-spirited can you be? You know this will be my first time in charge, and I want people to be there.” With that, she slammed down the phone. Stunned for a moment, Stefanie thought how often she had heard in their sermons that, given a conflict, to do as they believed Jesus would have. She then acted accordingly.


Tyranny And Force

When the reality of power has been surrendered, it’s playing a dangerous game to seek to retain the appearance of it; the external aspect of vigour can sometimes support a debilitated body, but most often it manages to deal it the final blow. Alexis De Tocqueville

The use of force alone is temporary. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed which is perpetually to be conquered. Edmund Burke

Deny a strong man his due, and he will take all that he can get. Unknown

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. Thomas Jefferson

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to god. Thomas Jefferson

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt | Source

Quotes By Eleanor Roosevelt

Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.

Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women has to offer is shunted aside without expression.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.


Strength And Rule

Whoever has any authority over you, no matter how small, will attempt to use it. Unknown

The strong individual loves the earth so much he lusts for recurrence. He can smile in the face of the most terrible thought: meaningless, aimless existence recurring eternally. The second characteristic of such a man is that he has the strength to recognize, and to live with the recognition that the world is valueless in itself and that all values are human ones. He creates himself by fashioning his own values; he has the pride to live by the values he wills. Nietzsche

Power when wielded by abnormal energy is the most serious of facts. Henry Adams

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men. Voltairine de Cleyre

Einstein | Source

The Master Commands

The majority of the stupid is invincible and guaranteed for all time. The terror of their tyranny, however, is alleviated by their lack of consistency. Albert Einstein

As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable. Albert Einstein

Why question authority when authority won’t answer? Unknown

If you have but a single ruler, you lie at the discretion of a master who has no reason to love you; and if you have several, you must bear at once their tyranny and divisions. Rousseau

Authority has every reason to fear the sceptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt. Robert Lindner

Men are no importance. What counts is who commands. Charles De Gaulle

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt | Source

Against naked force the only possible defense is the same. The aggressor makes the rules for such a war; the defenders have no alternative but matching destruction with more destruction, and slaughter with more slaughter. Franklin D Roosevelt

Politicians And Control

He who laughs does not believe in what he laughs at, but neither does he hate it. Therefore, laughing at evil means not preparing oneself to combat it, and laughing at good means denying the power through which good is self-propagating. Umberto Eco

Not the least of the qualities that go into the making of a great ruler is the ability of letting others serve him. Cardinal Richelieu

I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves. Mary Wollstonecraft

The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power. William Shakespeare

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill | Source

The dictator in all his pride is held in the grip of his party machine. He can go forward; he cannot go back. He must blood his hounds and show them sport, or else be devoured by them. All strong without, he is all weak within.

The members of government are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, all-powerful for impotency.

The most insupportable of tyrannies is that of inferiors.


The inevitable end of multiple chiefs is that they fade and disappear for lack of unity.

Rigorous authority and justice are the kindness of kings.

Oppression And Tyranny

The rules are rather simple to understand: Under democracy you can defend any view, but only defend it. You cannot try to realize it through power, violence or weapons. Poul Henningsen

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views… which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering. Source: From The classic TV series “Doctor Who” The Face of Evil

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. Darwin


When one force subdues men, they do not submit to him in heart. They submit because their strength is not adequate to resist. Mencius

There is no realizable power that man cannot, in time, fashion the tools to attain, nor will any power so secure that the naked ape not abuse it. So it is written in the genetic cards; only physics and war hold him in check. And also the wife who wants him home by five, of course. Encyclopaedia Apocrypha

I never could believe that providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden. Richard Rumbold

Of all the tyrannies of mankind; the worst is that which persecutes the mind. John Dryden

Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers from which they dare not dismount. Proverb

Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson | Source

Samuel Johnson

Lawful and settled authority is very seldom resisted when it is well employed.

If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny that will keep us safe under every form of government.

Subtle Aspects of Domination

It has been understood for some while that a number of nursery rhymes, ostensibly meant to amuse children, often began in a differing form, as subtle expressions of political discord. This is typified by what was originally the rhyme Baa Baa black sheep, which began:

“Baa Baa black sheep, have you any wool?”

“Yes Sir, yes sir, three bags full.

One for the master and one for the dame,

And none for the little boy who cries in the lane.”

If this last line strikes you as wrong, you’re quite right. The Mother Goose rhyme passed down since the 1765 publication of John Newbery’s Mother Goose Medley ends with, “And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.”

The source of the original rhyme was a tax levied by the king which sheep farmers found unjust. According to Albert Jack in his book, Pop goes the Weasel: the Secret meanings of Nursery Rhymes, for more than a thousand years, wool gleaned from sheep had become an increasingly major part of the British economy, bringing a great deal of revenue by way of its trade.

Black sheep is an expression that describes an unusual or scandalous person either a member of a group or clan, but usually a family member.

In nature it is a genetic anomaly that occasionally causes the birth of a black rather than white sheep; hence the fleece is worth less money because it cannot be dyed into different colors.

Wool Tax Burden

This influx freed the then king to tax wool traders at one third of their income. It was this wool tax which was said to have been the basis of the original “Baa Baa Black sheep.” Most of the remaining two thirds were demanded in order to maintain local churches and monasteries. Hence, there was little or nothing left for the actual shepherds. Thus, these nearly destitute laborers became those little boys who cried in the lane.

Given our modern view, it seems inconceivable that such injustice could be endured without some type of major rebellion. Still, viewed within its framework, toilers of any kind had almost no options. Their major route towards revolt lay in pamphlets which, though approaching the border line of sedition, never quite crossed its boundary.


The Power of Powerlessness

Most parents, even those who have been eager for children, find themselves, at least early on, resenting the necessary constraints. Over-all, as parents become accustomed and their children mature enough for their needs to diminish, frustration evolves into gradual freedom, the child becomes more of a friend, and their achievements a growing source of pride and contentment.

Intrinsic to this more tranquil approach is the knowledge that, if things proceed in the natural order, the child eases towards a time of independence. The wrench of their striving towards freedom is combined with a mildly guilty relief of parents’ regaining their liberty while still fit and healthy enough to enjoy.

Discipline In The Home

While it can prove difficult to refuse requests for money and/or the wish to stay or return home after age 18, it is advisable to put some safeguards in place. If not, an honest need can erode into an ongoing lifestyle from which all parties find it ever more difficult to escape.

In one such example, parents allowed their son to live at home for a year rent free, as long as he was willing to sign and adhere to a contract agreeing to take any job he could get within the next 10 days, take bagged lunches to work every day, and allow his parents to use a percentage of his salary to pay off his debilitating debts.

Although a university graduate, this stipulation meant taking a job in a lumberyard until he could find something more suited to his interests and abilities. While this might strike some as stringent, the young man emerged, aged 23, with minimal debt and a far greater understanding of the grit of the world as it is than he could have if at home in a relaxed, haphazard job hunt.

Giving Control To The Needy

If boundaries are not placed on the time to “decide what to do with my life”, a 45-year-old may dominate the home. Having felt no need to pursue any career or occupation in any definitive way, such long-term lodgers can say, by then with some justification, “What job can I get at my age? If you boot me out now, I’ll end up as a go-for or street sweeper.” At 50, this lament can become, “All my brothers and sisters have homes; what do I have? If you don’t leave me the house in your will, I will wind up homeless.”

Unfortunately, having lived half a century on this earth with no fruits to harvest, this statement is true. Thus, it forces parents, with reluctance, to urge their other hardworking offspring to “try to understand; show some compassion”, euphemisms for allowing a lifelong lay-about to become a happy home-owner.


Of course, the above example is somewhat simplistic. Various nuances may contribute to this type of seeming imbalance in parental care. Still, the trend of stay-at-home adults, for no discernible reason, seems to be on the increase.

A further detriment lurks in the likelihood that these child/adults will fail to learn the abilities needed to develop relationships with potential friends and lovers. Later, left alone by the deaths of both parents, this aging adult may quickly morph into an elderly recluse.

A delightful illustration of the process of urging a child to begin his own quest towards adulthood was provided in a lecture by Dr. Leo Buscaglia. As a young man touring Europe, he wrote to his mother to say, “Please, Mama, I’m starving.” Via the next post, she wrote back, “Starve.”

Clearly she knew her son would not starve-was in no danger of doing so. What she was saying in essence was, “Leo, You’re well able to earn enough money to eat; it’s time to get on with it.” In his later lecture, Buscaglia said, in effect, “Hurrah, Mom, for that nudge forward from the cushioned cocoon into the rough turf of reality.


© 2014 Colleen Swan


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