It’s hard to think of an episode more tailored to confirm the wildest conspiracy theories of QAnon — that global elites are a bunch of Satan-worshipping pedophiles — than the ongoing Balenciaga scandal.
Here you have a luxury fashion brand literally caught in the act of grooming, with a recent ad campaign featuring small children in Balenciaga apparel holding teddy bears wearing sexual fetish and bondage gear, and another ad campaign that included images of court documents from a 2008 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Williams, which ruled on a law banning the pandering of child pornography.
Balenciaga has since pulled all the ads and issued a nonsense excuse about how it was a “wrong choice” to feature kids with BDSM teddy bears, that it was a “failure in assessing and validating images,” and that it was “never our intent” to include child abuse in the company’s “narrative.” The whole thing, the company says, was the result of “a series of grievous errors.”
As for the court documents about child pornography, Balenciaga is claiming ignorance, blaming a third-party contractor’s “reckless negligence” for using “unapproved documents” in the photo shoot, and has since filed a $25 million lawsuit against the set designer — even though Balenciaga also “takes responsibility” and admits it “could have done things differently.”
(Another image in that campaign is of a woman posing in a Manhattan office with a stack of books behind her. One of those books is by Belgian painter Michael Borremans, whose work frequently features children and has included images of toddlers smeared in blood, eating severed limbs. So far, the brand has said nothing about the Borremans book.)
Balenciaga’s “apology” doesn’t hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people saw the photos of toddlers holding BDSM bears before the ad campaign launched. How did those images get approved? How many Balenciaga executives, and which ones exactly, signed off on them? How many staff members were on set when the images were shot? We won’t ever know because Balenciaga will likely never say, the admonitions of Balenciaga brand ambassador Kim Kardashian notwithstanding. The company only issued its fake apology after its creepy ads provoked outrage online. The idea that anyone there is sorry for any of this is laughable.
But there is a deeper story here beyond the hypocrisy and depravity of a single luxury fashion brand, which is that companies like Balenciaga, along with nearly all corporate brands today, have no criteria for saying why such images are a “wrong choice,” or that publishing them is a “grievous error.”
In its statement, Balenciaga says, “We strongly condemn child abuse.” But does it? The photo shoots themselves, in which young children were exposed to teddy bears in BDSM gear, were arguably abusive. How can a brand both condemn and engage in child abuse?
The answer is that the term “child abuse” has no meaning to the people who run Balenciaga, just as it has no meaning to the people who provide “gender-affirming care” at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of many hospitals where minors are routinely castrated, mutilated, and given powerful puberty-blocking drugs that cause irreversible damage. Same goes for those who put on all-ages drag shows targeting children, or push for pornographic material to be available in public school libraries. For these people, “child abuse” is a phrase without content, a holdover from a moral universe they believe they have transcended, or perhaps destroyed.
Indeed, only in a world of complete moral relativism is it possible simultaneously to condemn and engage in child abuse, and this is the world that our elites inhabit now. It’s how Balenciaga can employ someone like Russian stylist Lotta Volkova, an apparent Satanist whose now-private Instagram account features demonic and abusive images of children, along with the BDSM chic that landed Balenciaga in this scandal.
Stomach-turning as all of this is, you should not be shocked by it. Western civilization is rapidly de-Christianizing, and as this process continues we should expect to see the collapse of morality and behavioral norms that relied upon a uniquely Christian understanding of mankind and the cosmos.
What that will mean, in practice, is increasingly frequent (and disturbing) manifestations of what is replacing Christianity as the dominant moral ethos of society, which is a kind of neo-paganism. I don’t mean a return of the old polytheism that Christianity destroyed, but a nihilism that takes the outward form of paganism — not a worship of many elemental gods but a worship of the self, and ultimately a worship of the appetite, of emotion and whim and will.
The neo-paganism that is replacing Christianity — and, among our elites, has already replaced it — is unable to recognize, much less condemn, something like child abuse. The moral framework for it is simply gone. That is why Balenciaga both perpetrated and condemned the child abuse in its ads. That is why our elites both embraced and denounced Jeffrey Epstein. These people have, as C.S. Lewis put it, stepped out into “the complete void,” where there is nothing to restrain the evil that lurks in the heart of man.
As the decline of Christianity proceeds apace, we should expect to see more of this. But we should not expect the fake apologies to continue much longer. It won’t be long now and we’ll be past all that.