The Western States are experiencing change as the influx of migrant farmers increases. Those in power try to push back against the symptoms of unrest rather than the causes: unified labor, new taxes, etc. Try as they might, the powerful will be unable to stop millions of people’s determined attempts to improve their own lives.
Those in power are fearful of the change that the destitute farmers may bring about. However, these farmers’ desperate need will drive them to effect the changes they seek, while the powerful won’t be able to stop their gradual progress.
Men are still willing to lay their lives on the line for a concept, and the unified action of mankind is what fosters revolutionary change. As soon as “I” becomes “we,” the seeds of change have been planted. The powerful landowners are unable to understand this process, because their greed prevents them from knowing anything but “I.”
Steinbeck outlines his philosophy clearly: mankind’s greatest and most distinctive asset is its ability to unite and strive for a common good. The landowners’ greed and fear blinds them to this beautiful aspect of humanity.