1883 – Karl Marx dies

One of the most influential public intellectuals in the history of the world, Karl Marx, it should be noted, was no relation to the Marx Brothers. What he was instead was an economist, a sociologist, a theorist, a philosopher and a writer. His books “Das Kapital” and “The Communist Manifesto” shaped the Twentieth Century in a way few others can lay claim to (“Mein Kampf” and “The Bible” are just about the only other books that even compete).

Marx was the originator, though not the founder, of Marxism. As a political movement that still lives on today, and under which more than a fifth of the world’s population lives, its influence is impossible to ignore. He is also one of the founding figures (along with Emile Durkheim and Max Weber) of the discipline of sociology, and his influence dominates many university sociology departments even today.

Marx was born a German, and lived there in his early life. In 1843 he moved to Paris, thence to Brussels in 1845 after the French government kicked him out, and finally to London in 1849. From here, Marx worked on his various philosophical books and engaged in political journalism (including a lengthy stint writing for the New York Tribune). He died at the age of 64 in 1883 after a lengthy illness, and was buried in London’s Highgate Cemetary. At the time of his death, his works were just beginning to find an audience, but their influence would grow by leaps and bounds over the next sixty years.

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Done Too Soon — Neil Diamond

1883 – a massive volcanic eruption occurs at Krakatoa

The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history culminated in a massive eruption on August 27, 1886. Minor seismic activity started in May of that year, and continued until February the following year.

The explosion that occurred that day destroyed the island of Krakatoa – the remains of the island were less than a tenth of its former size. The eruption also caused a massive tsunami, one that was still powerful enough to rock ships in their moorings in Cape Town thousands of miles away. It blew massive amounts of dust into the air that darkened the skies for years afterwards.

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