What is consumerism?
Consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages the purchase of goods and services in ever-greater amounts. Criticisms of consumption are already present in the works of Thorstein Veblen (1899). Veblen's subject of examination, the newly emergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition by the end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization. In this sense, consumerism is usually considered a part of media culture. ~ from Wikipedia
Is consumerism an addiction?
Let's define addiction. Addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Consumerism does portray such similar characteristics.
Is consumerism a religion?
Religion is defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. In this sense, I won't say consumerism is 100% a religion.
Does consumerism set the master and the slave apart?
Yes. One simple observation - Average trendy luxurious looking people who practise consumerism well tend to be the slave of the economy while the less flashy looking people who are not so into consumerism tend to have more control over their financial-life destinies. Hollywood probably has the highest density of broke people on earth! I hope you understand what Hollywood is all about by now.
Can the world live without consumerism?
No. So long as master and slave, lender and borrower, landlord and tenant relationships persist in the society, the world can never live without consumerism. It's a great tool to set the master and the slave apart.
Is consumerism good for the society?
Let's look at 2 different worlds - the developed western world and the developing Asia. In developed western world, consumerism has led to many bankruptcies at all levels; while in developing Asia, the lack of consumerism has led to massive asset inflation (large chunk of money goes into properties rather than consumer goods and services). So, the answer to this question is two-fold.
So what's the point?
Do whichever makes you happy without causing too much harm to the society and the people around you. It's the same for smoker and drinker. So long as they don't abuse or get too addicted to cigarette and alcohol, we are pretty much in the state of equilibrium if we ever have a state of equilibrium.