I've noticed this in a few South Park episodes, so that's what I'd like to give an example from. I'm sure other artists have depicted something similar.

Note that I'm not necessarily agreeing with the opinions depicted in the following, I am merely using it as an example of what I mean.

In an episode called Go God Go they have depicted a future with no religion. In this future, there were only atheists and they were fighting each other over how they should be called. The rest is irrelevant.

In another episode, It's Christmas in Canada, in one scene, they depicted French Canada folks singing something along the lines, "there's no Canada like French Canada, the other Canada is hardly Canada". Again, an example of one nation fighting "itself."

Is there any word, phrase or term for this?

  • Factionism; Faction-fueds; Group-rivalries;
    – Kris
    Sep 6, 2014 at 5:46

8 Answers 8


infighting is probably the simplest

  • 2
    I also like "circular firing squad."
    – MT_Head
    May 18, 2011 at 0:10

It could also be called internecine strife / conflict.

  • 1
    First word I thought of...
    – PSU
    May 18, 2011 at 1:44

A split or division within a group is sometimes called a schism.

  • It's more religion specific, I guess.
    – user8568
    May 17, 2011 at 23:11
  • 1
    Yes and no. I've seen it applied to any division that's based on some sort of philosophical difference, like the schism between Apple and Microsoft for instance; but I'd guess it occurs most frequently in the context of religion.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 18, 2011 at 0:28
  • The film "Fitna" was apparently named after the Muslim equivalent of schism. May 18, 2011 at 3:27

Well, when people from the same nation fight each other, you call it a civil war. Is that what you meant?

It's an expression that defines a specific situation though, but according to the main question, it's the only thing I can think of...

  • The examples which mentioned by OP don't have anything with: "The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies".
    – user8568
    May 17, 2011 at 23:17
  • It's just an expression to say "which is called..." Anyway, he said «Again, an example of one nation fighting "itself."» I interpret that as "civil war"... Also the atheists example might fit... I tried to give the best word/expression that described what I could grasp from his question.
    – Alenanno
    May 17, 2011 at 23:20
  • I know that, but "war" is a very strong word for this case. By the way, I cannot get my vote back!
    – user8568
    May 17, 2011 at 23:31
  • Well the literal meaning is strong yeah, but you might use it figuratively and it would have a quite less "dangerous" acception... :D
    – Alenanno
    May 17, 2011 at 23:38
  • It's arguably a strong phrase, but I've heard, for example, political commentators say, "There's a civil war in the Republican Party between the beltway establishment and the Tea Party". Similarly for internal conflicts within other organizations or movements.
    – Jay
    May 3, 2012 at 19:12

I think

Civil Dispute

might be near what you're looking for.

  • And how to look fear?
    – user8568
    May 17, 2011 at 23:06
  • Silly typos. :) Fixed May 17, 2011 at 23:09

I'd suggest fratricide, in its military meaning "The intentional or unintentional killing of a comrade in arms", used figuratively or literally depending on circumstances.

  • 1
    fratricide, I think
    – PSU
    May 18, 2011 at 1:44
  • Another military term is "blue on blue" (where blue is your own side, and red is the enemy), but I think that's more for accidental attacks (also called "friendly fire"). May 18, 2011 at 3:29

Years later, I'd suggest


Metaphorically eating themselves out of their own relevance.


Florynce Kennedy called this "horizontal hostility" in "Institutionalized Oppression vs. The Female" from "Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement", Random House, 1970.

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