In essence the culture wars are a finely honed media product, packaged and exported by the US right, and marketed through conservative franchises around the world—think tanks, right-leaning media, lobby groups, conservative political parties, partisan pollsters, and the professional purveyors of political division who work as party strategists. The product consists of a narrative template into which names, places and issues can be inserted to suit the occasion, but always the overarching story is the same: a broad-based, powerless ‘mainstream’ faces off against the outrages perpetrated by an all-powerful left ‘elite’. The context in which this product is marketed is the chaos and confusion that marked the end of postwar consensus politics in the late 1970s and that has been ongoing. Its fuel is rage and the sense of dislocation, disruption and insecurity felt by many after decades of economic and cultural change. The solution offered isn’t to kick upwards against the entrenched economic power of the rich but to kick downwards against new claimants for rights and inclusion, who are identified as the real cause of the trouble.

Mark Davis on fake wars.