The Internet Research Agency (IRA) also known as Glavset and in Russian Internet slang as the “Trolls from Olgino” or “kremlebots,” is a Russian company, based in Saint Petersburg, engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.
Michael Richardson-Borne: In the United States, your organization, the Internet Research Agency, is called a “Russian Troll Farm.” Could you take a second to describe trolling and how you go about performing it?
Internet Research Agency: We wouldn’t call what we’re doing trolling – so I’d rather not further connect us with the concept by describing how it works. Trolling has a pejorative sense and insinuates that we’re stalking a target or targets to incite trouble for trouble’s sake with malevolent intent. The reason the US media describes us this way is because its reporters and anchors don’t know who they are beyond the separate self and that what they’re doing, due to this lack of knowledge, is spreading lies of separation in the name of “accurate reporting” or as an act lived as thinly veiled corruption and political brinksmanship. If anything, your media is the troll – trolling the American people daily with biased stories of separation, a type of psychological bait that keeps your population divided and distracted enough to continue the vehement fight for what the separate self thinks defines it. Your nightly news represents civil war between the original story and the outgrowth of stories of the separate self – which is obvious propaganda to the initiated. It’s a propaganda created and delivered by separate selves who unknowingly spread the illusion of separation – separate selves that have the blind audacity to diagnose partisan politics as an unavoidable low-grade fever when, due to a misalignment with truth, it’s an indication of a mass cancer infecting the entire nation.
Rather than trolling, what we’d prefer to describe is how our commitment to what we call Non-separation lives inside our organization – and to use the United States as a living example of how our understanding is applied. We define Non-separation as “the impersonal existence of being that includes the personal.” What this means is that the story of the separate self, what we refer to as “the personal,” is actually an impersonal experience that is personalized by an attachment to a concept in the mind. Our work is an invitation to question the violence of this separative attachment and to recognize the nature of the impersonal – which is Non-separation.
So, in essence, what we are doing is simple – we are merely mirroring what is already the condition of your country back to your people, mirroring the violence of your separative culture, your culture of separation. We take the wounded heart of your nation, the shadow aspects of your collective psyche, and hold them up right in front of your face. We show this to you by pouring your own gasoline on a fire that is already slashing and burning from sea to shining sea. By amping up division to the point of absurdity, we provide the opportunity to recognize your own reflection, to recognize how participation makes you an accomplice in this recipe for absurdity, to recognize that it’s possible to question the source of this absurdity and to wonder “how things have come to this.” We invite you to discover how basing your existence on an untrue assumption of separation leaves you spinning (and confused) in the corresponding post-truth world. Asking questions about the confused state of your nation is what we consider the initial turn within.
Because your country is not collectively questioning the separate self, America is rotting from the inside. All sawdust and maggots. The outside is shiny in some places but the internal rot is exposed in others. I take that back. The outside is all visibly rotting too – but whereas the inside is infested with maggots, the outside is a kind of rot that appears to be in robust health, stinking of scents like Chanel No. 5 or Tom Ford that mask the rotting filth of a separate self lost in itself. Of course, this is just how things should be – but it’s still reflective of a nationwide misalignment with your true being.
MR-B: Let’s talk about social media. Your efforts to influence American politics did not end at Facebook and Twitter. A CNN investigation of a Russian-linked account shows your tentacles extended to YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pokémon Go. The US news cycles claim your social media pages and groups are designed to sow discord in US audiences using fake personas and the stolen identities of US persons. Over time, these social media pages become a means to reach millions of people. Can you take me through the process of creating one of your social media posts?
IRA: We’re not sowing discord. The primary assumption of humanity, the belief in a separate self, was sown long ago. So the discord is already there – and this belief in separation means the particulars of your identity, things like taking yourself to be “American,” are offshoots of this discord. What the people of your country do not understand is the roots of Non-separation are always present but not known to exist. It is thought that the whole of life is above ground, just the stalk, leaves, and, maybe, some kind of tropism bending what is thought of as an autonomous body and mind towards the sunlight. But, again, the seed and roots are completely forgotten. The original story of beingness and its impersonal nature are completely forgotten. This gap in memory creates the behavior, culture, and system of discord where the strings of a “discordian” were present from the beginning. Our agency simply plucks the strings to see if anyone can recognize the out of tune music that causes the people of your nation to dance off beat.
Since social media was founded with the discord of the separate self filtering its inception, there is no way for it to manifest anything other than discord. A tulip bulb does not manifest a rose. And, in this case, a tulip bulb doesn’t even manifest a tulip. Why? First, because social media isn’t social in the way the culture of separation believes. Just like in the physical world, the stories of two separate autonomous individuals can never meet. Two stories cannot separatively interact as they are both activities of Non-separation. Only as reflections of Non-separation do they ever touch – but without a space between the touching. Social is singular, less than singular, not a phenomenon that, to function, requires an arrangement of two or more.
Second, media isn’t media in the way the culture of separation believes – it’s layers of media disconnected from its source. The story of a separate self is the first layer, the stories that are thought to define the story of the separate self are the second layer, and what is perceived as outside of the stories of the separate self is the third layer. Only one of these layers is known in the world of the separate self as the culture of separation thinks of media as once removed from a separate body, an object divorced from an object. But this is a product of a false assumption at the core of your being. From Non-separation, it is known that media is at least twice removed when the belief in a separate self is still intact – at minimum, media is the media of the media.
This leaves social media as a translation of everything that has come before it in the culture of separation, which is how we came to our working definition – “an online collection of separate selves that express the culture of separation in a technologically pixellated or emergent virtual medium.” The only way to change this medium is to shift the separative assumption that supplies the context of its apparent unfolding to one that has brought Non-separation to the fore.
As far as the creation of our content goes, it’s simple. We know the stories the separate self is attached to in your country – so triggering people is child’s play. The “blue states” are attached to one set of false stories. The “red states” are attached to a different set of false stories that oppose the blue ones. Then, the news media is set up to support the maintenance and deepening of this manufactured conflict just short of absurdity – Fox News and Breitbart on one side, CNN and MSNBC on the other.
So all we do is take a hot button issue of separation from one of your media outlets (race, gender, gun control, immigration, etc.) and frame statements leaning one direction or the other. The separate self can’t help but defend its attachments and react with a cheer, a jeer, an argument or an insult – which results in thousands upon thousands of people seeing our posts. This is the way we bring the people of your country face to face. Social media provides people the cover for a cowardly confidence they don’t express in the more PC intersubjective and objective world – and therefore it’s a chance to truthfully engage with who you perceive as an other, a chance to see through an illusion by tiring of the name calling and back and forth that obviously has no terminus if you continue traveling the arc of separation.
MR-B: I’ve heard that now that the US is post-election, you’re concentrating on new American storylines and the underlying political debate. You probably can’t answer this, but I’ll ask anyway. What are you working on right now?
IRA: I can talk about one initiative. Translated from the Russian, it’s called Operation Shallow Heart. Here’s the context in which we’re working –
One – men and women dehumanize one another based on the sexual physiology they arrived with. Two – Pushing out a layer, men and woman dehumanize one another based on how this physiology receives physical contact, or by whom it receives physical contact. Three – men and women dehumanize one another based on their identifications on the spectrum of being man and woman.
Supporting people in realizing what these identifications are, who or what they define, and how these stories are inseparable from what is called physiology is the crux of our action plan. We’re encouraging people on social media to go beyond the definitions of human, sex, and gender to discover what is aware and living each of these concepts as expressions of Non-separation.
MR-B: The US media calls your work “political and electoral interference operations” and “information warfare.” Do you consider what you are doing to be “information warfare?”
IRA: Yes. But not against a country or a political party – it’s against the story of a separate self. Wait, that’s not worded correctly. It’s not “against” the separate self, it’s warfare for the separate self to learn its proper role within consciousness. And that is still not completely clear as there is nothing to fight for or against. War is simply a movement of consciousness that reveals exactly what it is to exactly what it is.
MR-B: Why do you focus your efforts in the realm of politics?
IRA: Politics is the “selling of story” to separate selves that attach to these stories. The power of politics is not in policy but in narrative – politics is a form of marketing and the people of your country are an unwitting focus group, unpaid volunteers who pay money to your politicians to either supply them with or protect their identity stories.
“Underneath” this political action, the separate self is the “selling of story” to itself so that it can remain the owner of its original assumption of separation and the stories this assumption has bought. The power of the separate self is not in real autonomous action or in “individual policy,” what some call “morality,” but in the illusion of a continuous narrative – the separate self is a form of marketing and each person in your country is an unwitting focus group, unpaid volunteers for their own minds.
Our efforts may seem focused on politics, but we are focused on pointing to that which the realm of politics is a reflection of – consciousness itself.
*This is a fictional interview written by Michael Richardson-Borne as a teaching of Non-separation.