Looking for a SF Short Story I read many years ago. Name (although not exactly sure): "All the Small Wars at Once". I believe it was written by Larry Niven (but not sure). Brief synopsis (as I remember it): Society breaks down as all individual differences become a source of conflict; ultimately even differences in hair color (blond, redhead, brunette) cause conflict until all individuals are fighting each other. Thanks for your help

  • Used this in a college ethics class I taught. Great discussions and validated my purchase of a bullet proof vest. I read it a looong time ago in the very innovative magazine "Omni". Is there anything like it published today?? Also used Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" for a discussion of Wokeness and PC fascism. I think it's a short story from "Welcome to the Monkey House". Still mourn his passing.
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    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 15:53
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1 Answer 1


That's George Alec Effinger's short story "All the Last Wars at Once", originally published in the 1971 original-stories anthology Universe 1 edited by Terry Carr. It was also the (unaccepted) answer to this question. Any of these covers look familiar?


Above the entrance to the church fluttered a hastily made banner. The masculine symbol had been crudely painted on a white sheet; the white flag indicated that the worshippers were white males and that blacks and women were "welcome" at their own risk. The population was now split into four mutually antagonistic segments. The separate groups began to realize that there was some point in keeping their members together in little cadres. The streets and apartment buildings were death traps.

[. . . .]

Before he started the car again, Stevie opened the glove compartment. There was an unloaded revolver and a crumpled factsheet. Stevie tossed the gun to the ground by the old man. He smoothed out the wrinkled paper. The youth of the world, it proclaimed, had declared war on everyone over the age of thirty years.

[. . . .]

The crowd cheered again, and then it began to break up. Some of the men stood around arguing. One of the small groups of Producers that was slowly walking to the parking lot was deeply involved in debating the boundaries separating Artists and Producers.

"I mean, where are we going to stop?" said one. "I don't like the way this divisioning is going. Pretty soon there won't be any groups left to belong to. We'll all be locked up in our homes, afraid to see anybody at all."

"It's not doing us any good," agreed another. "If you go out and get what you want, I mean, take something from a store or something, why, everybody knows you got it when you bring it home. Then you're the target. I got less now than when this all started."

A third man watched the first two grimly. He pulled out a factsheet of his own from the pocket of his jacket. "That's commie talk," he said. "You're missing the point. Let me ask you a question. Are you right- or left-handed?

he first man looked up from the factsheet, puzzled. "I don't see that it makes any difference. I mean, I'm basically left-handed, but I write with my right hand."

The third man stared angrily, in disbelief.


[. . . .]

YANG and YIN. Male and female. Hot and cold. Mass and energy. Smooth and crunchy. Odd and even. Sun and moon. Silence and noise. Space and time. Slave and master. Fast and slow. Large and small. Land and sea. Good and evil. On and off. Black and white. Strong and weak. Regular and filter king. Young and old. Light and shade. Fire and ice. Sickness and health. Hard and soft. Life and death.

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