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Trollery: The Stalinist art and science of pissing people off 

Written By | Aug 18, 2019
trollery, Stalinist

Screen capture from the official trailer for “Trollhunter” (original Norwegian: Trolljegeren), a 2010 film. Fair use to illustrate topic.

WASHINGTON. Trollery. Let’s explore this 21st century, primarily left-wing phenomenon in American politics. Some months ago, I responded rationally (I hope) to a particularly snotty, generalized put-down of Trump supporters, the kind of thing you see posted all too often on otherwise informative discussion forums like Quora. Every day, it seems, both here and elsewhere, one or more individuals (always under assumed names) will post “honest questions” for comment. Like “Does anyone know why only cretins support Donald Trump?” The aim is to take out, via these denunciation invitations, any and all opponents a modern low-information Stalinist doesn’t like.

What, exactly, is a troll?

In the beginning, the term “troll,” was used as a noun to describe mythical, primarily Scandinavian dwarves or giants that often appeared in folklore or fairy tales. These were usually nasty monsters who lived under bridges or elsewhere to threaten and harass innocent citizens and passers-by.

Over the last decade or two, however, the word developed a different but related meaning. In our increasingly online world, an Internet troll serves a similar function. Today’s troll is a generally anonymous user (or team of users) that pops up in discussion groups or in commentary threads.

“Troll” becomes a verb

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary offers three contemporary definitions of “troll” as a verb.




  1. Antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.
  2. Act as a troll on (a forum, site, etc.)
  3. Harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts.

Trolling is another way the doctrinaire left uses to silence productive argumentation and discussions it doesn’t agree with.

A troll’s ultimate aim: to implement Alinskyite tactics and Stalinist zeal to harass, belittle and ridicule posters attempting to conduct civil discussions or Q&As. This kind of phony Q&A provocation is just another flavor of trollery, which involves the art and science of igniting what used to be called online “flame wars.” Specifically, I define the entire disruptive process of troll harassment and intimidation as “trollery.”

Continue the story: The Deplorables Strike Back: Episode 2 – Election 2020
Trolls, trolling and trollery

The primary intent of online trolling (in addition to its sheer, snarky adolescent fun) is to lead perfectly civil discussion threads off productive topics and into endless fusillades of name-calling.

The aim of trollery is to thwart any rational discussion of controversial issues. Problematically, the trolls who are adept at this — and there are many — usually succeed by wearing more rational responders down. Even the most rational individuals can only be pushed so far. So they’ll generally abandon the thread at some point, leaving the troll with the last word. Success!

In addition to namecalling, threats, doxxing and the actual incitement of violence, today’s Stalinist flavor of trollery has become a sinister weapon in the arsenals of hard leftist foot soldiers. As online trolls, it’s clear they know next to nothing about history. But it’s equally clear they’ve memorized every play and response outlined in the Alinskyite playbook. Such diversionary tactics often cloud day-to-day discussions of politics by igniting dueling, alternating bombardments of rage, fear, and overall bad will.

The goal of the troll
trollery, Stalinist

Mr. Hanky, a notorious South Park meme. Screen grab used to illustrate analogy.

And a residue of bad will is precisely the goal of the troll. When decent people get pissed off beyond reason, the troll wins. The original serious discussion topic evaporates. In its stead, readers see chain-linked f-word-laden sniping attacks. These fact-free and vulgar attacks divert anyone with a brain away from getting involved in the thread, destroying their ability to discuss the “offending” issue on any given forum.

Favorite troll tactics

Favored tactics? “You don’t know what you’re talking about, a-hole, because, shut up!” Maybe followed by an emoji of Mr. Hanky or one of his generic friends. The standard approach of such trolls becomes undeniably juvenile in a vicious, bullying way. But this tactic often proves effective. Trolls always have enough time on their hands to keep the harassment going as long as necessary to kill the discussion and cast opprobrium on the target. I suspect that one or more wealthy leftists and/or organizations pay at least a stipend to a goodly number of these online provocateurs.

Ominously, online trolls can rely on backup if a given online target fights back and refuses to give up. That’s when they revert to classicly thuggish Stalinist tactics. Today’s left-wing Stasi shock troops, aka Antifa, scan comments and discussion boards to pinpoint ideological offenders. Almost like an online flash mob, the instantly gang up to teach Deplorable miscreants a physical lesson on the costs of rebelling against their betters.

And the left’s reliable allies on so-called cable news networks and in Internet sites and columns can help out by doxxing offending freedom fighters, letting the world know where the offenders live, the names of spouse and children, and, in general, letting the offender knows that he or she and his or her family are not safe anywhere anymore.

Trollery and the #Resistance

It was my recent interaction with trolls on a discussion thread — where I encountered strings of endless #NeverTrump / #Resistance bait-and-run question — that inspired this short column. You can recognize the troll’s transparent invitations to engage in flame wars by noting his, her or its casual avoidance of facts. Another sign: the transparent bad will that motivates each aggressive and presumptuous fake question. For an even stronger tip-off, note whether the troll’s initial response involves vile name-calling. The anonymous troll and his fellow travelers (who soon magically show up on the thread) need no permission to reflexively trash those who disagree with the questioner’s premise. If the questioner is clearly a Deplorable, the gang opens fire without mercy.




One never notes any pretense of intellectual curiosity or goodwill in these forced exchanges. The offending Stalinist troll wants to bully hapless respondents from the other side. They never intend to engage in a serious discussion. They lack the appropriate facts and run instead on pre-cooked Alinskyite sales tracks. As a backup, trolls frequently receive aid from anonymous fellow Stalinist bullies who follow up that first shot with even more. Always there when a troll needs them, they reliably hide behind the lurker curtain, ready, willing and able to pile on. They always seem to have the time.

NEXT: Election 2020: The Deplorables Strike Back 

— Headline image: Screen capture from the official trailer for “Trollhunter” (original Norwegian: Trolljegeren ), a 2010 film.
Fair use to illustrate topic.

 

Terry Ponick

Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17