The popular “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” quote by John Steinbeck is about privileged communists, not poor people thinking they will become rich
It amazes me how many people misinterpret the origins of this quote.
As quoted in A Short History of Progress (2004) by Ronald Wright: “John Steinbeck once said that socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” This has since been cited as a direct quote by some, but the remark is very likely a paraphrase from Steinbeck’s article “A Primer on the ’30s.” Esquire (June 1960), p. 85-93:
“Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: ‘After the revolution even we will have more, won’t we, dear?’ Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property…”
“…I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew — at least they claimed to be Communists — couldn’t have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves.”
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society