Probably the most intense social criticism I've ever read in a book. It's not a book for the light-hearted, but really, f*ck the light-hearted. I've heard people call this book 'boring', quoting that it is 'always the same story' and that it 'is only about hunger'. And who cares about hunger, really?
Who does care about hunger, and those who are not as fortunate as we are? It's easy to just read 'The Grapes of Wrath' and view it as a historical social document about the Great Depression. This is, of course, what the story is intrinsically about. What some people fail to realize though, is that the problems presented in Steinbeck's classic are not just problems of the past. I have a hard time talking about this as a European - I have always been well-fed, well-nourished and have always had a roof above my head. I have never had to fix a car or drive through a blistering desert. And even though I sympathize with characters such as Casy and Tom Joad, it would be wrong to identify with them. If anyone, I would be one of the Californians; trying to protect what I have myself instead of sharing it with those in need.
There's a whole bunch of 'Okies' left in the world; people who are hungry, who do not have a fixed job or residence. There's the everlasting example of Africa (how long have we been ignoring that world problem again?) and the dysmal working conditions in Asia. But you don't even have to wander so far to find people in need. I'm thinking of vagrants, but also the ever growing masses of unemployed people in America. Those people who have fallen outside of the system. It's also my firm belief that what is now happening in America, is bound to spread out and reach Europe some day. To think that we are, in some twisted way, untouchable, would be a grave mistake.
We might even find ourselves at an important crossroads. Whereas industrial evolutions caused manual labor to diminish in the times of the Great Depression, another evolution might now be at hand; a technological one. Who is to say that robotic workers couldn't do our job for us? And then we would relive the same problem all over again; people, willing and able to work, but not finding a job because some computer chip robot can do it cheaper, faster, and more efficiently. It's not hard to imagine this. People/employers have repeatedly lost track of their humanity in order to turn a profit. (If you want examples of that, just open your kid's 'My first history book' and you'll find out.)
You might say I'm going a little overboard here. And that's perfectly possible; heck, I'd be glad if it didn't come to that. But the world is what it is, and people are what they are. Individually oriented, for the most part. Greedy. (Certainly nowadays. Perhaps hunger isn't even about food any more?). And it'd be interesting to see if humanity has learned from its mistakes. If it has embraced the lessons of 'The Grapes of Wrath'. If humanity can, over the long haul, become a collective proces instead of an individualist group of craving humans.
PS; #FreeMarx #Communist4Evah