Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Common GoodsEconomy, Ecology, and Political Theology$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Catherine Keller, and Elias Ortega-Aponte

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823268436

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823268436.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
date: 14 April 2021

The Myth of the Middle

The Myth of the Middle

Common Sense, Good Sense, and Rethinking the “Common Good” in Contemporary U.S. Society

(p.191) The Myth of the Middle
Common Goods

Charon Hribar

Fordham University Press

Although the reality of economic inequality in the United States continues to increase, the endurance of the myth of the American Dream persists. In this essay, I propose that the common good promoted in U.S. society is an unexamined aspiration for a strong middle class and an unsubstantiated principle of social mobility that masks our recognition of an inherent contradiction of advanced global capitalism—that wealth is created through growing impoverishment. I draw on Antonio Gramsci's notion of common sense to analyze the concept “middle class” as a hegemonic apparatus used to align a majority of people in the United States with a “politics of aspiration” while overlooking the failure of our economic system to ensure people’s basic economic human rights. I then engage Johannes Baptist Metz’s criticism of middle-class religion and H. Richard Niebuhr’s critique of capitalism to explore how a revolutionary Christian tradition can help challenge the fundamental social relationships that produce poverty in the midst of plenty. Finally, with a call from the grassroots to Put People First, I examine how developing a critical consciousness on the ground can begin to disrupt a worldview of American exceptionalism that masks the contradictions of capitalism and helps preserve the hegemonic power of the ruling elites.

Keywords:   American assumption, common sense, good sense, hegemony, philosophy of praxis

University Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .