I decided to research the theme of socialism. It is a recurring theme throughout the book, and has even morphed into a socialism vs. capitalism theme with the migrants and those capitalizing on their hardships. Before diving into the theme of socialism, I would like to explain my view on the topic. I do not share the typical view of socialism. Whenever socialism is mentioned, there is typically a negative connotation attached. I, however, tend to view socialism in its ideal state – an individual working for the common good. This is not a typical textbook definition. With this in mind, I think the Joads Family is a prototypical example of socialism at its best. Ma, almost ad nauseam, is preaching the importance of the “fambly” sticking together. You can also easily view the benefits of socialism with a cursory thought of the roles of the family members. The men are the providers and the women are the caretakers. The Joads balance their roles and by doing so the family is able to survive, albeit a tough survival.
Another case in point of the theme of socialism is the government camp the Joads settle in. While other themes such as the power of organization appear, socialism plays a strong role in these communities. The people work together to maintain common places such as shower and bathrooms. The only major hang-up the community faces is that, collectively, they are unable to provide enough food and the fear that the local people have of them. This pushes the males in the community back into the waiting arms of capitalism, as they seek work outside of the government camp. Perhaps with more land for growing and livestock this community would have thrived even more.
It is my belief that there is no full proof form of government. While we are considered a government that practices capitalism, there are certainly numerous examples throughout history and even today of socialism playing a role in the United States. You can look no further than Obama care today for a prime example. Another example would be that of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, which was/still is considered to be socialism. In fact, Obama faces many of the same criticisms that FDR faced in the 1930s. Governing people is way too complex to stick to an existing ideology. An ideology that takes the best of numerous ideologies is a much better comprehensive and productive way of thinking.
John Steinbeck quote regarding socialism in America.
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”