The Last Days of Leni Riefenstahl

Edit: oops! Video doesn’t allow embedding. Click here to watch.

This was a student film made by Sundance filmmaker Madeleine Olnek about Leni Riefenstahl’s 100th birthday. If you take it literally, it could be a little mean-spirited towards the old lady. I mean, Leni wasn’t that obviously smug in the interviews that served as reference. There’s a little more depth to her. I mean, she never said that shit about Helen Keller in real life. Poor little Leni. What an unfair portrayal.

But if you take this short film as satirical commentary on artists who contribute to certain regimes and then try to pull that “I didn’t know there were politics going on!” shit later, which is how I think this film is meant to be taken, it’s fucking hilarious. My favorite real-life moment on par with the absurdity in this clip comes from a famous 1979 interview with (utterly homoerotic) Nazi sculptor Arno Breker, whose work was hailed by Hitler as the antithesis to all so-called degenerate art. Journalist Andre Müller, considered one of the hardest interviewers of his generation, described the scene thus:

When he mentioned the tragic consequences of his professional activities under Hitler, his isolation and desperation, his wife trembled with laughter. When I asked her what she found so amusing, she replied that normally her husband spoke in a completely different way. During a stroll around the garden, where several sculptures dating from the National Socialist period were on display, she told me: “I don’t listen when he tries to discuss politics, it bores me.”

A macabre incident occurred when I asked the sculptor about his attitude toward the gassing of the Jews. Precisely at that moment, [Breker’s art dealer] inserted a new tape into his recorder and mistakenly pressed the play button, so that my words were accompanied by a few bars of dance music.

And no. I can’t read the words “Nazi” and “dance music” in such close proximity to each other without bopping my head to this song. It’s funny. It’s not funny.

24 Responses to “The Last Days of Leni Riefenstahl”

  1. john colby Says:

    That 79′ interview is a true jem of televison.You can taste the hate between people. I recall reading two years ago about Jodi Foster working up a film on Leni. Anybody ??????

  2. Red Scharlach Says:

    To be fair, it’s not like most anyone working in the arts today gives a wit about current politics either.

  3. Shay Says:

    There’s something utterly uncanny about Leni Riefenstahl. Her vision is so pure, so naive, it’s heartbreaking to know to what end it was designed. In my eyes, there will always be something very unsettling about her imagery. It’s near impossible today to separate her aesthetic from that of the Nazi party. Having said that, to me, hers is one of the finest examples of why art need be considered outside the scope of the artist’s moral world. Caravaggio was a murderer, and his art is prominently displayed in respectable museums throughout the world. It remains to be seen if in a hundred years time, cinematography will be able to consider Riefenstahl outside the moral context of her work.

    Either way I recommend viewing “The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl“.

  4. Leigh Woosey Says:

    I recommend the above article written by an anthropologist who actually lived and worked with the people Riefenstahl made the subject of her callow fetishism. She may have been too naive to realise how far from a ‘reformed Nazi’ she was, but she had a responsibility no to be so self indulgent.

  5. Mer Says:

    John, the Jodi Foster film was in limbo for years because Reifenstahl wouldn’t grant her autobiographical rights while she was alive (and apparently she would have preferred Sharon Stone in the role). Madonna and Paul Verhoeven have also sought the rights. Who knows what will happen now that she’s dead.

    Leigh, that’s a fascinating (and damning) article. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. Peter S. Says:

    The photo in the Wikipedia article of Breker sculpting Albert Speer is so laden with cautionary tales as to be almost painful to view. Reifenstahl and Breker may have contributed to the morale and prestige of the Nazis, but Speer was in a class all his own. (His name came up early in my education as an example of the moral failings possible in the field.)

    Shay: Excellent point. Another, possibly thornier, example is Otto Wagner’s Post Office Savings Bank in Vienna. Now it is seen as one of the first notes of Modernism, a simplified classical order set opposite more ornate, elite bank buildings of the day by a populist impulse. In actuality, it was a swipe at the Jewish banking houses of the day by an openly antisemite client, the far-right Postal Union. That Hitler and Speer later rejected this move away from ornament as Jewish architecture is no small dark irony.

  7. Red Scharlach Says:

    Leigh, I’m not sure how you can say such a thing about a person when basically everyone – not just the artists – live thanks to domineering over someone feebler, whether they like it or not.

    Shit, and we’ll keep on getting away with it for centuries to come. That much is evidenced by what Shay pointed out with Caravaggio.

  8. Kale Kip Says:

    I find it really strange and actually quite disturbing that people have trouble with the fact that Riefenstahls beautiful work was used for the most evil purposes in history. I mean, do they really expect that evil always looks like Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Cruella deVille or Starfish Hitler? That you can see somebody’s bad intentions by the use of close-ups or the composition of a photograph?

    There is lots of evil in this world, but there is no such thing as “entartete Kunst” or “fascist aesthetics”. It suprises me that this is so obvious for everything but aesthetics. There’s nobody in the world saying that he won’t drive on German highways because they are a product of fascist spatial planning, or doesn’t take medicine from Bayer because they practice nazist farmacy. I mean, the evil of fascism is not in the aesthetics, it is in oppression, totalitarianism, denial of the individual, racism and genocide.

    In other words: what Laibach are saying.

  9. Nadya Says:

    Leigh: great article. Thank you for sharing. It reminded me a discussion we had a while back on Coilhouse that touched on some of the things that Faris discusses:

    Red: There’s a serious difference between being a garden-variety, apolitical, ignorance-is-bliss, implicitly-wasteful ivory tower artiste and being a conscious, direct accessory to a political regime the way Breker and Riefenstahl were.

    Shay: Sure, I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy certain artists the same way if I kept obsessing about what kind of people they were. I couldn’t give up my Lovecraft or Ezra Pound for that reason, just because they were assholes. BUT, at the same time, I don’t think someone like Riefenstahl should be evaluated in the same category. See, her art was completely politicized from the start. Whether this happened because she needed the budget and that incorporating fascist rhetoric into her beautiful films was the only way to get it, or because she really did believe in those ideals, she made a choice that tangibly tainted her work forever.

    … and YES, you could make the point that in the modern era, all art is politicized, that we’re all contributing to the capitalist-entertainment complex, etc. I’m happy to have to go there, but if anyone uses the argument that no artist can escape the political mechanisms of their time to somehow absolve Riefenstahl, I’ll LOL. Not all artists made the choice she made. There is that legend of how Fritz Lang was approached by Goebbels to make propaganda films, just like Riefenstahl. He said “yeah, sure, I’ll do it!” Then he promptly fled Berlin. I know that historians have been unable to verify this particular tale, and even if it didn’t go down quite that way, I’m sure that there have been other artists with the strength to say “no” to budgets, production means and recognition because they didn’t want their talents to be used for propaganda purposes, and I respect them in a way I can’t respect Riefenstahl.

    Kale: I’d respond in greater detail, but I know better than to get into an argument with someone about “what Laibach are saying,” since every interpretation of Laibach is correct. ;)

  10. Tequila Says:

    “…It’s near impossible today to separate her aesthetic from that of the Nazi party…”

    Not really. Mainly because her films like the Nazi aesthetic itself has gone beyond the politics into its own strange genre, world, subculture, etc. Her imagery can be seen in countless films both with a strong nod and a more silent whisper. Triumph of The Will while notorious had so many nods to a romanticized past like that of Rome it’s hard to only see it via its subject matter. The Nazi’s style wise had few original ideas, they lifted so much from around the world, used and perverted history & mythology for their own measures, and ultimately just used the talent of those left in their borders to create an image then that is VERY different than the image now.

    I say that because one needs to remember propaganda films seen in Germany before and during the war are not the films we mostly see today. Films of Hitler for example mainly had him as a smiling, benevolent, kind leader. A bit at odds from the historical clips we see now. Triumph of The Will itself had a two prong effect that was clearly meant to promote the Nazi ideal beyond its borders…a giant PR film of power, order, and rebirth. Something that is should be noted was NOT considered evil in its debut by the majority. It was also rarely screened in full with mostly clips seen once the war started.

    Yes it’s difficult to view Leni & her work by what we NOW know vs. what may or may not have been known then…but in the 30’s you had such a moral cesspool of confusion about Germany and its then new government that morality & ethics seemed interchangeable depending on who profited from what. Was Leni’s moral compass off center? She ended up on the side of the losing team…but she has no need of being absolved or only tied to the regime she made films for. It didn’t survive. The irony is her film is loved by MANY who enjoy film and view the Nazi aesthetic as something to play with in assorted subcultures. Lets be honest that can be even more perverse in the long run since today you have the idealization of the Nazi party, the denial and lessening of their evils, and a nearly cartoon & Hollywood image of the era and war itself. Her film is considered the reality of the Nazi’s when in all truth it was then the ultimate romantic vision of them.

    Talk about a confusion of reality and fantasy.

    Leni went on with her life, even did some amazing shoots in Africa. Nearly unapologetic about her past at that. What could one even say? Sorry? Who would it have been directed too? Most just wanted her to fade away like the cruel era itself.

    Most of what we all now know of WW II was not released from archives till the 90’s and the Holocaust was until the late 70’s rarely mentioned or even touched on in popular culture. THAT was sad…just look at the hard history of the earliest documentary on the subject Night & Fog or how few films were allowed to even mention it after the war.

    Albert Speer without question represents the confusion of the era itself to perfection…he became a best selling author. You want perverse though? look at the survivors of the Wannsee Conference who went on after the war to long careers. They DID the stuff Leni’s films never even touched but are associated with and suffered little for it.

    “I mean, the evil of fascism is not in the aesthetics, it is in oppression, totalitarianism, denial of the individual, racism and genocide.”

    See that’s the rub of it though. If you’re gonna use that aesthetic and then say “Yeah but I don’t believe in the politics of it…” you still end up promoting it in the eyes of some, supporting it in the eyes of others, and keeping it alive. I’m not saying this is wrong on any moral level or shouldn’t be done. We’re all allowed to play, use, and retool our shared history no matter how dark.

    Fascism or any system resembling it didn’t begin with the worst face forward though…it begins with trying to connect with people on personal, political, and very much on an aesthetic level. Organizations like the Nazi’s developed and cultivated their image and changed it as needed to remain appealing until…well we all know the history.

    It’s a formula we see today even in our own political spectrum. I’m all for adopting and playing in the past…but the history and true meaning is always there. Even on the rivethead who dresses up like an SS officer for a club event cause it “just looks cool.” Part of the appeal is because of the history it has. Its fun playing in the dark.

    Leni is one of countless artists in that era and subsequent cold war who worked for governments of brutal practices and actions. Still is she any different than respected photographers who supported and still support Castro? what of the countless who still serve to promote of the Chinese government today?

    Look at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games for China…a grand spectacle mixing the themes, size, and ultimately the same tone as what Triumph of the Will pushed for. The world loved it and rarely questioned it…yet it was an orgy of Chinese Government Propaganda.

    “…but if anyone uses the argument that no artist can escape the political mechanisms of their time to somehow absolve Riefenstahl, I’ll LOL. Not all artists made the choice she made…”

    I think it’s less to absolve her than it is to show how she’s become the blueprint of so many artists today. Look how many freely apply and give their services to governments for propaganda on all levels. Even though we don’t use that term any more and have replaced it with countless others.

    Now that we’re a bit more sober from our own election buzz…look at how much artwork, film, etc. was pushed for Obama. At some point that fine line of support and outright propaganda was crossed and it’ll take a bit more distance from it all to accurately gauge…but it WAS crossed.

    You’re right not all artists make the choice Leni did…even today…but here’s the other thing do we damn them for the governments they support and tie them to the actions of that government…


    Do we praise them if we support the governments they do work for and tie them to whatever positive actions result from that government?

    I mean you have people who didn’t think the Nazi government was wrong just that “some of their actions were a bit much”. Same as you have so many who see the Bush years as “Not THAT bad…” Things are totally flipped depending on what side one is actually on.

    I’m definitely on the side that praises those willing to go against the grain…but those that don’t rarely do so for simple reasons. If Leni was an outright Nazi it’d have been a simple thing to deal with…but ambition, opportunity, and an idea can really play with moral codes…after all look how faustian it turned out. She may have sold her soul for some but she gained immortality…cause her films will live on both for historical reasons as much as artistic ones…and few of us ever really know what we’ll do with such an offer.

    I’m not trying to absolve the woman…she just represents so much of what artists have become its difficult to see her in an absolute black and white setting…even if oddly she was a master of that.

    Thanks for this post Nadya…have not had the opportunity to play with all these ideas and Leni’s legacy in some time. Oddly enough before her death she was honored in a VERY low key ceremony at a hotel near me. Never thought I would see that happen in Southern California of all places…

  11. Nadya Says:

    I’m glad there are such strong responses to this post. Tequila, I think you just won the award for the longest Coilhouse comment ever. :) You bring up a lot of good points. It’s true, the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing does have a vibe very similar to Triumph of the Wills. I never made that connection before, but I totally see it now.

    I’m surprised no one’s commented on the YouTube clip I posted, though. Sharing that short film was actually the main reason for my post. Curious if you guys liked it.

  12. Tequila Says:

    “…you just won the award for the longest Coilhouse comment ever…”

    Haha, yeah I can be quite the long winded bastard at times. Apologies to all who have to endure the excessive scrolling!

    About the film…I liked it up until the Sophie’s Choice ending. Just seemed oddly out of place. I understand the intent but it definitely lacks a certain dramatic punch. That kinda scene needs much more of a build up…or a better presentation.

    The rest of the film reminds me more of a film following some celebrity like Paris Hilton than someone like Leni…one can see the formula used (right down to the old people gotta be crabby and harsh cliche) and it isn’t that bad for a film trying to put a modern spin on someone so high profile from an era that had such clear cut definitions of good & evil.

    The part that worked well was the comment about the cartoon view of Nazi’s. Would have been much more interesting to base the film around that theme in her representation. Cause she did come off as more cartoon than satire.

    Has anyone seen The Life and Death of Peter Sellers? It was an HBO flick from 04′ starring Geoffrey Rush. He kinda plays the role of Peter Sellers in a similar vein as the film above. It goes into more detail of course in terms of personality and psychology but it’s worth watching in that it plays the biopic formula with a different set of priorities.

    I’d actually want to see a full theatrical version of The Last Days of Leni Riefenstahl…they got a talented actress and clearly must have had many more ideas than those used for this student film. Plus they could probably get away with it if it’s just a satire…

  13. Shay Says:

    @Peter – Good point about Otto Wagner! I hadn’t considered it before.

    @Kale Kip – The incongruity, which leads to my personal sense of Unheimlich – comes from my tight association between Ethics (inquiry into what is good) and Aesthetics (inquiry into what is beautiful). More broadly, I consider them to be one and the same. Perhaps now, in light of this view, my statement (which was always meant as a personal value judgment) makes more sense.

    @Nadya and @Tequila – My favorite philosopher, Ludwig WIttgenstein, was also apparently an intolerable individual, and yet he wrote A Lecture on Ethics one of the most striking ethical papers I have ever read.
    I see your point regarding Riefenstahl’s been ‘conscripted’ art from the get-go, while for Caravaggio, being a murderer was circumstantial to his being a great Baroque painter. Still, I can’t help thinking it’s all political. Had Caravaggio murdered someone deemed more ‘important’ we might have never heard of him today in any context other than his murder.
    To further the point, Hitler was a painter. I mention this not because I believe that had he not being an evil dictator we might today be appreciating his art (though who knows), but because an aesthetic conception lay in the very inception of Nazism. I’m not saying that in all levels, Nazism was an aesthetic project, but a Nazi aesthetic ideal did motivate, inspire and play a significant role in the Nazi political project, itself Utopian (not for people like us of course) and with what one might call aesthetic “epic” inclinations. Riefenstahl was a significant part of this project. Not every photographer that took a picture of Castro or every artist that wore a Mao T-shirt at some 60s happening share the same moral responsibility.

    @Tequila – I hate to nitpick, but the Holocaust was certainly touched upon in the public arena before the late 70s. Most revealing debate began with the Eichmann trial. Adolf Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents in Buenos Aires on May 11, 1960. His trial before an Israeli court in Jerusalem began on April 11, 1961. It lasted 14 weeks, and was front page headlines all over the free world, beginning with Argentina’s request for a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel over the breach of its sovereignty, continuing with the hundreds of documents, witness accounts and defense depositions from 16 countries, and ending with the rejection of his appeal and and his execution on May 31, 1962. Subsequently, and in light of the horrific witness accounts, the holocaust became something people discussed.

    @Nadya – I’d seen it before =]

  14. Nadya Says:

    Peter: I completely missed your comment before. I’m sorry, I would have responded. How fascinating, about the banks architecture. I didn’t know that.

    Shay: Eichmann! What a story, how they caught him in Argentina. The daugher of the Jewish Nazi-hunter who nabbed him just happened to start dating Eichmann’s son, who bragged about his pop being an important figure in Nazi Germany, blowing his cover. That’s. Insane.

  15. Shay Says:

    Not exactly history as I know it, but a good story nonetheless ;)

    (Lothar Hermann was not a Jewish Nazi-Hunter, other than that it’s pretty much okay)

  16. Tequila Says:

    @Shay…I should have been a bit more clear. I meant the Holocaust as portrayed in popular films and television. In historical context yes the Eichmann trial, the post war Nazi Hunters, several writers, and the survivors themselves did bring the event as a whole to the forefront of society numerous times.

    Once the Holocaust started to become the topic of numerous documentaries, films, and television (the earliest I can think of TV wise was the episode of The Twilight Zone titled Death’s Head Revisited) it became as we know and study it today.

    The imagery and language about it changed even though
    powerful books (The Diary of Anne Frank & Night being great examples) had already given a human face to it…the moving image brought that massive horror to life in the ways only film & TV can. It was a catalyst for so much related to it that some now argue it’s a genre unto itself (that sounds distasteful to some but it’s an understandable sentiment.) It’s strange how the reality of it existed in so many forms…yet it was dramas about it that really hooked so many into facing it. War and Remembrance in the late 80’s had that effect in how it showed the brutality of the Holocaust where before it was only written about or shown in less graphic ways in popular films.

    Prior to that Mini Series, and handful of films like Sophie’s Choice, and later Schindler’s List a lot of what is now standard imagery was rarely seen outside of documentaries. So while Film & TV didn’t originate the Holocaust discussions in society it definitely propelled it as a subject matter and historical event to levels not seen prior to the 70’s and beyond.

    “…but because an aesthetic conception lay in the very inception of Nazism. I’m not saying that in all levels, Nazism was an aesthetic project, but a Nazi aesthetic ideal did motivate, inspire and play a significant role in the Nazi political project, itself Utopian (not for people like us of course) and with what one might call aesthetic “epic” inclinations…”

    If you’ve not seen it yet check out The Architecture of Doom…it makes an argument that touches on those very issues and supports them in very unique & controversial ways.

    “…Not every photographer that took a picture of Castro or every artist that wore a Mao T-shirt at some 60s happening share the same moral responsibility…”

    Quite true but that goes for many within Nazi Germany and Nazi Occupied Europe itself. The question then becomes “How much do you have to do before you’re considered a collaborator?”

    Moral responsibility is a hard thing to gauge…post war Germany never really figured that out. As is a unique debate rages about how German Soldiers of WW II should be viewed, honored, and celebrated (especially survivors of SS divisions). You want a headache real fast…try to figure that one out. Haha.

  17. Nadya Says:

    Shay: oh shit, you’re right. That would’ve been SOOO much more dramatic and crazy, if that had been the case. There would be a movie. With Kate Winslet in it.

  18. Tequila Says:

    I’d watch that movie…if not Kate Winslet then Julie Delpy for sure. Directed by one of the greats Brett Ratner! :P

  19. Shay Says:

    @Nadya I imagine for the hallmark tv-movie, certain artistic freedoms could take place… ;)

    @Tequila – I have a very easy remedy for that particular headache. German soldiers of WWII should not be honored at all. None of them. The war started as a German offensive, even if later on they were on the defensive. Marching onto Czechoslovakia or Poland does not merit any honor or celebration, even if later on you were just trying to defend the heimat from the allied forces.

    German members of the resistance should be honored, and indeed are.

    I’ll look up The Architecture of Doom. Sounds like my kind of book!

  20. Tequila Says:

    @Shay…For a time that seemed to be the idea. To forget and move past. Unfortunately like any war the reality proved more complicated than anything. The survivors had families, lived lives, etc. So the issue became can a nation ignore an entire generation of men & boys who fought and died for their country not just a government. The most difficult has been separating the regular German Army who by and large were never Nazi Party members and only came under the control of the Nazi government when it took power. They did what any soldier does…fight a war you’re told to. No room for debate.

    The other issue arose within the survivors of the SS. You had essentially two different organizations. An Administrative arm that ran the death camps, and more internal administration like policing. Then you had the military arm which while notorious was still very different and made up an elite fighting force akin to special forces today.

    The reasoning to honor the men who fought and survived is less out of glorification but to acknowledge they were not just “the bad guys” Japan came to terms with it much better than expected. So it IS possible. Personally I think it needs to happen in order to put to rest so much Nazi romanticism and give a more accurate understanding of just who the enemy was in WWII.

    This of course leaves out the Campaign for North Africa since many consider it “The Last Clean War.” The behavior of German forces in Africa was completely different than those in Europe. Historical facts prove this and those who fought on both sides are already highly honored. A level or respect existed even during the campaign itself that was totally unique in the war. Memorials exist in the nations the campaign took place and even in military & similar circles German The Afrika Corps is highly respected. So its proven possible to honor those men…it just seems one needs to practically go division by division and then decide if one is to honor them for military accomplishments alone or damn them for actions now considered war crimes.

    Doubt we’ll ever see a Das Reich Division memorial or ones dedicated to SS Panzer Divisions. Strangely a lot of websites & books that DO honor the men who served in those divisions are written or compiled by American and British historians, armchair scholars, and Ret. Military.

    Being the ones who started the war is almost a non-issue since many nations honor men who fought in wars they started (win or lose.) In the US alone there are small graveyards to German soldiers who died here during the war. Quietly the graves are maintained and even honored on specific holidays. Strange but true.

    The Architecture of Doom is a documentary actually. Forgot to mention that! Caused quite a firestorm when it was first screened. Not many liked the premise…but damned if it doesn’t make one well executed argument.

  21. Shay Says:

    @Tequila – I’m sorry, I will never feel comfortable with German soldiers who fought during WWII being honored. It’s the kind of moral relativism I find despicable. Any and all achievements they had in the war served to prolong it, and thus make it possible for more and more of my family members to be exterminated. Had they not ultimately failed, I for one, wouldn’t be here, so it is their failures I would choose to celebrate. All their achievements were in the service of evil and should be treated as moral failings.

    Even if it weren’t the lives my family members at stake, I completely and utterly dismiss the notion that these soldiers were ‘just doing their job’, and therefore bear no moral responsibility. There is always the option to quit, to resist, to subvert orders. We are morally accountable for our actions, not our intents, and any job like that has politics inherent to it.
    Think of the Death Star contractors argument from ‘Clerks’ ;)

    and yeah, after googling I realized it was a doco. Downloading now from KG. Cheers.

  22. Tequila Says:

    @Shay…Indeed had the Axis powers of any theater won it’s likely none who read and post here would have a pulse. It’s a world that thankfully fell into smoke and ash.

    The problem is one can’t judge military action by civilian morality. You can’t subvert, resist, or quit. They’re not options by and large and those who risk it (many did historically) the consequences are high. A military world functions on a stringent chain of command where following orders is key. That command structure (really it’s the officers and junior officers that so much rests on) can rise or fall depending on the quality of those men & women…and they odd enough are the line between duty served or war crimes committed. By no means would I try to convince anyone German WWII soldiers should be honored…just that the issue has a lot of catch-22’s and highly controversial viewpoints and arguments.

  23. Shay Says:

    @Tequila, please don’t take this the wrong way, but you have no idea what you’re talking about. As someone who actually served in the army for several years, I think I can say with some degree of confidence that there’s always a choice. I’ve made peace with my choices and I stand by them, but I have friends who were imprisoned for dodging the draft or refusing to serve in the occupied territories. So please, spare me the relativist pomo BS. We all have to live with our choices, German soldiers are no different.

    I think we’ve derailed the discussion here far enough, over and out.

  24. Tequila Says:

    @Shay…Noted…but I stand by my statement since numerous historical cases of military action, doctrine, and behavior support it. Not saying it’s absolute as even of those I’ve known who have served (or still do) end up on opposite sides of the debate on numerous levels.

    Admittedly I did simplify my meaning but I will say flat out I don’t support the notion there is “always a choice.” It’s been proven too many times that one can be placed in situations be it in warfare or civilian life where you have none. THAT I speak from personal experience…it has zero to do with relativism. It’s very simple to fall into a situation where your options get taken away bit by bit till you have none…more so if that situation occurs where morality, ethics, and civility are not in play. Yes one can argue a persons own strengths and weaknesses come into it…but anyone can be broken or corrupted with enough pressure on the right points.

    “We all have to live with our choices…”

    If they were genuinely ours to make then yes…if not…well that muddies the water quite a bit.

    “I think we’ve derailed the discussion here far enough”

    Oh indeed, this took a very odd turn. Apologies to all if any offense occurred.