Materialists are those that consider material goods to be the warp and woof of life itself. They don’t concern themselves with people or their good, but instead confine themselves to physical objects and the obtainment of them.
Materialism has often been bemoaned by academics as being a terrible fault in the American character. But whilst it has been true that periods of materialism have erupted, materialism is not part and parcel of the American character. True materialism is essentially considering material goods to be the beginning, middle, and end of life. The periods of material mania that America has at times crossed through, on the other hand, are periods of using materials as a means to gain something, usually a sense of life and vigor. To the true materialist, material goods are the end, and not a means, which is a critical distinction lost on most academics.
“But,” says the academic, “look around you Mr. Fighter, don’t you see the consumerism that’s represented by the likes of McDonald’s, Walmart, and Toys R’ Us? Don’t you see that many Americans spend most of their paychecks almost as fast as they earn them?” In some cases this is true, and it is indisputable that those companies are doing a lot of business; but consumerism is not an end, it is not the goal of these most often very decent people. It is a means most of the time: a means to try to make up for the lack of human connection that they have with their children, their relatives, and their friends. Many Americans live hurried lives today, and so they try to use material goods to make up for being busy. This doesn’t work of course, but the mistake is simply an honest error, and not some vicious consumptive appetite, like our above academic fears. But because the average American is not an ascetic, because he does not place intellectualism at the forefront of his priorities, he is thought a brute by not a few intellectuals. But he is not a brute. He is a normal human being trying to make his way in a workaday world; and if the intellectuals would spend more time trying to help him along, and less time whimpering about his disinterest in a highly intellectual diet, perhaps the academics would be practically helpful to the common man.