by Dmitrii Orlov for Club Orlov (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)
A most interesting book has recently come out: Phil Butler’s Putin’s Praetorians: Confessions of the Top Kremlin Trolls. It’s a good book to read for all those who wish to peer behind the crazy funhouse mirror set up by Western media. It includes contributions from people who have been active in opposing the barrage of counterfactual press coverage emanating from “fake news” factories such as the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN.
The title is a facetious one: the people in question are not trolls, and the trolls in question do not exist. “Kremlin trolls” is a fake meme that is consistently deployed to cover up one’s own failure but play no role in one’s successes.
For example: London’s political establishment successfully manipulated the Scottish independence referendum into failure by a combination of emoluments and scare tactics; therefore, phantom Kremlin trolls played no part in it. But London failed to do so with the Brexit referendum; therefore, out came Kremlin trolls, to be blamed for this unintended, unscripted result.
Another example: Madrid failed in its effort to suppress the Catalan independence referendum; the exercise turned into one of thwarting the exercise of democratic self-determination; there was blood on the streets. So, out come Kremlin trolls, to be blamed. But now that referendum-fatigue has set in and most of the population says they are having second thoughts about independence, the trolls have apparently packed up and gone home.
And then of course there is this one: Hillary Clinton lost her election bid, inexplicably in her own mind and in the minds of her followers, but really by being a very bad candidate who did inexplicably bad things such as referring to half of her electorate as “a basket of deplorables.” So out come Kremlin trolls, again.
And now that the entire “Russian meddling” narrative, relentlessly pursued by the “fake news” media ever since Trump’s election, is heading toward the cul de sac where everyone has to admit that the whole thing was an incompetent fabrication, Washington decides to stage an attack on Russia Today, forcing it, uniquely among foreign news media such as the BBC, Al Jazeera and numerous others, to register as a foreign agent. In essence, by doing so Washington has admitted that its “world order” can be brought down by nothing more than the free exchange of information! If that’s not a position of extreme weakness, what would be?
In short, it is clear that Kremlin trolls spontaneously materialize in the midst of defeat and are automatically handed the laurels of victory. What do the trolls have to do to secure that victory? Why, nothing at all! In fact, they don’t even have to exist! But why waste such a perfectly good opportunity to stand up, do a victory lap, take a bow, accept the laurels and so on—because someone might as well take the credit. If all you have to do to win is make a reasonable claim that you exist, that seems like a very low-risk proposition. And the most deserving people turn out to be those who have consistently opposed the fake anti-Russia narratives emanating from various Western mouthpieces, my good self included.
It is entirely unclear whether Russia at large or Kremlin specifically benefit from any of these putative Kremlin Troll victories, except perhaps in a public relations sense: by making Russia-haters look stupid. But this entire problem stems from the utter incompetence of Western leaders—which can hardly be considered a positive for the West, for Russia, or for the entire world. And here is where Phil Butler’s self-described “Putin’s praetorians,” a.k.a. Kremlin trolls, can and sometimes do play a positive role: by explaining to the rest of us how we are being governed (or should I say “played”) by some choice morons, and how that’s not necessarily a good thing. And so, more power to them, and please buy and read the book.