I'm trying to track down a quote that, through a series of examples, expresses the author's desire to renounce any power they may have over someone else (possibly the reader), each followed by their wish that the reader shall reciprocate in kind.

I'm sure I remember one line as mentioning a whip—something along the lines of 'Where I have the whip hand over you, I shall give it up, and where you have the whip hand over me, I shall hope that you would do the same'.

The quote may have been from a non-fiction political or philosophical work, perhaps an anarchist or libertarian text if so (judging by the nature of the quotation).

1 Answer 1


I believe the quote I was thinking of was the ‘John Galt Pledge’ from Part Three, Chapter I of Atlas Shrugged:

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

This fits the criteria of ‘renouncing control over another in exchange for them doing the same’ and of being a ‘political or philosophical work, perhaps an anarchist or libertarian text’, but lacks (a) the multiple examples and (b) the specific mention of a whip that I stated in my original question.

However, from the exact wording of having the ‘whip hand over’ another in my original question my best guess is that I may have been conflating the quote I was looking for with UK MP Enoch Powell's completely unrelated and rightly infamous 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech, which includes with the following line:

In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man

Another potential knock against this answer is that I have never read Atlas Shrugged, however I feel that the ‘John Galt pledge’ is exactly the kind of phrase that one would be likely to run into independent of the original source (e.g., here), and so this is less salient of a point.

In the absence of any other more compelling answers in the two and a half years since I asked the question, I am assuming that the Atlas Shrugged quote is the answer I was seeking, and that the mention of whips was a misremembered red herring.

  • Could you provide some explanation of how this fits all the criteria you mentioned in your question? For example, I don't see anything about a whip. Were you misremembering?
    – bobble
    Feb 28, 2021 at 20:38

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