Materialism is the excessive yearning to acquire and use material goods. Materialism is bound up with a value structure which looks upon the social status as being determined by wealth and the notion that happiness can be amplified through purchasing, spending and mounting up material wealth. It is a character of capitalist society (Harris, 2001). In the United States of America, materialism has increased among the population. This is because they consider materialism as the pursuit of a good life. It is evident that most students learn for the sole purpose of gaining material wealth after school. Materialism in the United States of America is referred to as the American dream. However, materialism has been criticized. Religion argues that it leads to an immoral lifestyle. Environmentalists argue that increasing materialism when joined together with population increase often leads to an increase in the destruction of nature. Social activists also argue that materialism is a source of crime, war, economic inequality and oppression. This is true since studies show that one in fourteen Americans would kill for three million dollars. American materialism thus marks a society’s industrial power, collective wealth and advanced way of life. It also manifests a level of dehumanization and absolute greed (Kasser, 2003).
Americans are afraid of communalism. This is because communalism involves the communal ownership of property. Communalism puts the interests of the community above the interests of any person. This is because it argues that the community does exist for the advantage of the people who practice it. Americans are thus afraid of communalism for this reason. Another reason is that, Americans believe in materialism as their pursuit of happiness. This means that individuals pursue happiness within their own limits and not communally like in communalism. Materialism also leads to individual accumulation of wealth unlike in communalism hence they prefer it to communalism (Harris, 2001).
There should be government intrusion in a capitalist system. This is because capitalism leads to many ill comings like crime, pollution, envy, no generosity, environment, war and inequality. This is evident in the USA with studies showing that 1 in 14 Americans would kill for money (Kasser, 2003). Studies also revealed that students learn for the purpose of earning wealth later. The war on Iraq is also another evidence of capitalism in USA. This is despite its vast debt. The government should intervene in order to try and narrow the gap that bridges the rich and the poor and makes everyone feel proud of being a citizen in their country. It will also reduce crime as people will be not being envious of others. In conclusion, American materialism has its advantages and disadvantages. It however brings out more disadvantages which overshadow the happiness brought by materialism.
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