Neutrollization: Industrialized trolling as a pro-Kremlin strategy of desecuritization

TitleNeutrollization: Industrialized trolling as a pro-Kremlin strategy of desecuritization
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsKurowska, X., and Anatoly Reshetnikov
Journal titleSecurity Dialogue

This article considers the significance of trolling for security processes through a contextual analysis of industrialized pro-Kremlin trolling in the Russian blogosphere. The publicity surrounding Russia’s hacking activities in international politics conceals the significance of the domestic trolling culture in Russia and its role in the ‘trolling turn’ in Russia’s foreign policy. We contextually identify the practice of ‘neutrollization’ – a type of localized desecuritization where the regime adopts trolling to prevent being cast as a societal security threat by civil society. Neutrollization relies on counterfeit internet activism, ostensibly originating from the citizenry, that produces political disengagement by breeding radical doubt in a manner that is non-securitizing. Rather than advocating a distinct political agenda, and in contrast to conventional understandings of the operations of propaganda, neutrollization precludes the very possibility of meaning, obviating the need to block the internet in an openly authoritarian manner. It operates by preventing perlocution – that is, the social consequences of the security speech act. This prevention is achieved through the breaking or disrupting of the context in which acts of securitization could possibly materialize, and is made possible by a condition of ‘politics without telos’ that is different from the varieties of depoliticization more familiar in Western societies.