To Jurgis the packers had been equivalent to fate; Ostrinski showed him that they were the Beef Trust. They were a gigantic combination of capital, which had crushed all opposition, and overthrown the laws of the land, and was preying upon the people.
This quote from Chapter 29 illustrates the effect of Jurgis’s adoption of socialism upon his mind. He previously considers the capitalists “equivalent to fate,” believing them to be all-powerful, impersonal, inhuman forces that have total control over his life. But Ostrinski convinces him that the capitalists are merely corrupt human beings who immorally oppress other human beings. Jurgis realizes here that the only difference between the capitalists and the workers lies in money, for while the capitalists have “a gigantic combination of capital,” the workers have nothing. But, as the speech at the end of the novel emphasizes, there are many more workers than capitalists, which could enable the socialist party to overthrow the hegemony of capitalism in a democratic system. This quote demonstrates the opening of Jurgis’s mind to politics and economics, as he takes up the socialist cause with a fervor at least as strong as that with which he initially embraces capitalism and the American Dream.