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The gist of the story is about us vs. them in every imaginable context. It ends with those who take their own lives as their own enemy. The story would have been written no later than the mid 70s as that was when I read it.

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    The more information you can provide about the story (and when/where you read it), the more likely it is that someone can identify it for you. We recommend that you look at our Guide: How to Ask a Good Story-ID Question and see what info you can add to this question. May 12, 2021 at 19:21
  • You haven't given us much to go on. You're sure it was by Silverberg? Here is a bibliography of Silverberg's short stories; anything here ring a bell? majipoor.com/works/index/shortfic/chrono/major
    – user14111
    May 13, 2021 at 8:56

1 Answer 1

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All the Last Wars at Once, published in 1971, seems to fit the plot details, but it was by George Alec Effinger rather than Robert Silverberg. From a summary:

[It] starts with two men, one white and one black, announcing on live news that there will be a thirty day race war. The story then cuts to a hitchhiker called Stevie who has a car stop for him. When the female occupant hands a Women’s Lib factsheet to him before he can get in, he realises that women and men are now fighting each other too, and he only just manages to shoot the driver before she tries to kill him. There are several similar sections that detail various other us vs. them conflicts: Catholics shooting up a Protestant church before all creeds end up fighting with each other, producers vs. artists, lefties vs. righties, young vs. old. etc.

As the OP recalled, the story concludes with the survivors fighting the "last war", which is the one against yourself.

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  • Apparently identified twice before but never accepted. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/153933/…
    – user14111
    May 13, 2021 at 16:59
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    The Effinger story sounds very similar conceptually but the ending was somewhat different: someone was handing out pills for the individuals to suicide, not kerosene. Unfortunately I have no other clues to offer as it was almost 50 years ago when I read the story. My recall was that it was the book that first introduced me to Silverberg’s work but, hey, I’m an old guy and memory isn’t what it once was. May 13, 2021 at 20:55
  • I'm glad my answer at least jogged your memory a little - the plot point of handing out suicide pills could be useful for identifying the story. Has anything else come to mind? May 14, 2021 at 7:56

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