Authoritarian governments are dragging civilization toward madness by spreading cynicism and nihilism to prop up their power - using industrial trolling described by Xymena Kurowska and Anatoly Reshetnikov .
Disguised by a patina of sincerity and authenticity, trolls lure in people with fake citizen activism to destroy all meaningful political discussion and demoralize the public.
… institutionalised political trolling and the use of bots have become a consolidated practice that significantly affect the online public sphere.
During this research we found a distinct phenomenon which we called “neutrollization”. This authoritarian practice co-opts trolling as an, in principle, anti-establishment (if inflammatory) activity, and turns it into a method of regime consolidation.
Neutrollization prevents civil society’s attempts to expose the regime as a security threat by creating conditions where political mobilisation becomes absurd, so any risk to the regime is neutralised. Meaningful political engagement only “feeds the troll” – that is, it gets sucked into the trolling spiral of ironising the public sphere.
… neutrollization does not advocate a distinct political agenda. Pro-Kremlin trolls generate a stupefying noise through internet activism which seems to originate from citizens. They spread various conspiratorial theories and create a quasi-political, yet completely hollow, public space with a multitude of diverse but prefabricated opinions that jam the web.
The logic was to imbue the discussions with such contradiction and filth that any bona fide user felt disillusioned and despondent. This flooding effect deters the audience from taking anything seriously.
… neutrollization plays on citizens’ own critical faculties by first drawing them in and then confusing them. It is not about merely pulling the wool over their eyes, and it has little to do with coercion or silencing. Instead, it exploits and twists the idea of self-expression and citizenry action in a way that leads to withdrawal from politics.
… – neutrollization encourages cynicism. All the while trolls preserve the semblance of sincerity and authenticity ... They cannot be “convinced” as their task is to implode any meaningful conversation.
But exposing trolls as professionals of nihilism is insufficient anyway. They are but precarious labour in a powerful political strategy. [yellow and bold emphasis mine]
I never imagined a world where governments would depend upon poisoning the public mind, not just as a rogue action but institutionally, structurally, on a vast scale. But these same authoritarian regimes deliberately destroy the future of mankind through fossil fuels and climate change denial. Russia may be the paradigm, but I see the US moving to duplicate that structural insanity.
How are we to make sense of governments - meant create order - secretly funding disorder and despair? Neutrollization's like a gigantic abscess, bulging the skin of dysfunctional regimes - one of many symptoms of the absurd planetwide self-extermination which Dominator Culture is engineering.
A possible pull quote: "Pro-Kremlin trolls... create a quasi-political, yet completely hollow, public space... in a way that leads to withdrawal from politics."
Letters to the editor and op-eds are less vulnerable to this, but vulnerable to conservative newspapers -- including many community newspapers across the country! -- maintaining a conservative bubble by refusing to publish opinions that might irritate their readers.