What most readers fail to realize is that the Walrus was a metaphor for a corrupt and jowly king, the Carpenter was a metaphor for the urban bourgeoisie hostile to the monarchy, and the oysters were a metaphor for the oppressed masses who feel the depradations of both.

Eventually, once the oyster-proleteriat had been exploited to its fullest extent, the Carpenter attacked King Walrus. The latter defended himself with terror and oppression but could not stave off his final fate at the hands of an assassin’s blade. Far from being a more benevolent ruler, though, the Carpenter only redoubled the exploitation of the oysters. Sessile and complacent, easily led about by jaunty songs and slogans, the oysters’ class consciousness lay dormant.

Did the author hold out hope for a revolution that would put the means of production in the hands of the hardworking oysters? Or did he merely resign himself to a grinding cycle of oppression so complete that any relief would have to be generations, eons in the future? Either way, it is clear that his is the most scathing critique of late capitalism of its time, and that we living in the time of later capitalism would do well to heed his warnings.

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