Karl Marx, Carl Linnaeus, and Charles Darwin

Karl Marx (1818-1883) writer journalist


Grew up in Germany. His father was a Lawyer, his grandfather a Rabbi and a member of Trier's Rabbis going back 100 years. His mother's father was also a Rabbi.

Marx went to the University at Bonn at the age of 17 where he studied philosophy (and law), and at the age of 23 set out in a doctoral thesis that "theology must yield to the superior wisdom of philosophy". In Berlin he and an atheist friend "scandalised their class by getting drunk, laughing in church and galloping through the streets on donkeys".
In 1843 he became co-editor of a newspaper in Paris though it was shut down within two years, and in 1845 he moved to Brussels.

With the assistance of Friedrich Engels (a wealthy man supported by his father) his writings were translated and published in English. Having also married, Marx shifted over the next four years between Brussels, Cologne, and Paris, before moving eventually to London in 1849.

With Engels, he now became an international journalist, with their writings at one stage being published by six newspapers from England, the United States, Prussia, Austria, and South Africa. Marx's principal earnings came from his work as European correspondent, from 1852 to 1862, for the New-York Daily Tribune. Eventually he died in 1883.

Of his seven or eight children, only three girls survived to adulthood. Sadly, one died of cancer at the age of 38, the second child deeply depressed with her husband's unfaithfulness poisoned herself at the age of 43, and the third one, Laura Marx, commited suicide alongside her husband in 1911 at the age of 66. Her husband wrote:

"Healthy in body and mind, I end my life before pitiless old age which has taken from me my pleasures and joys one after another; and which has been stripping me of my physical and mental powers, can paralyse my energy and break my will, making me a burden to myself and to others.

For some years I had promised myself not to live beyond 70; and I fixed the exact year for my departure from life. I prepared the method for the execution of our resolution, it was a hypodermic of cyanide acid.

I die with the supreme joy of knowing that at some future time, the cause to which I have been devoted for forty-five years will triumph.

Long live Communism! Long Live the international socialism!"

Yes, pretty sad.

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778)

111 years before Marx was born, Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish Botanist, son of a Lutheran Minister, "gave up" on the concept of Noah's Ark to develop the current systems of modern taxonomy. In 1735, his Systema Natura first identified human beings as "anthropomorphic" (meaning man-like) by grouping them with apes, a word which he altered to the word "primate" (chief from an evolutionary standpoint) in a later 10th edition, published in 1758. Apes were said to be terrestrial primates (who live on the land), bats were arboreal primates (a sister-group, still living in trees). In the 1738 edition, written in Latin, he presented humans as sorting naturally into whitish Europeans Homo Europaeus albescens, reddish Americans, dark Asians and blackish Africans. By the 10th edition, in 1758, these had become subspecies, colour-coded as red Americans, white Europeans, yellow Asians and black Africans. In addition, Linnaeus separately listed wild children Homo sapiens ferus and a non-geographical grab-bag category, Homo sapiens monstrosus. The idea that humans can be understood as constituting natural taxonomic units has bedevilled anthropology ever since. As this article says "as anthropology matured, it clarified the fact that human groups principally differentiate themselves culturally – that is, by language (probably more than anything), then by dress, principal deities, taboos and the like. The strongest antagonists are not the most biologically different, but simply the worst neighbours." And we read in Gen 25:25, 27:11 at a time 3,800 years ago how Esau was born "red and hairy" while Jacob was a "smooth man". And also that famous hymn written in the early 20th century by a Baptist minister in Philadelphia (literal meaning "Brotherly Love"), Clarence Herbert Woolston, "Jesus loves the little children, red and yellow black and white, all are precious in his sight" But Linnaeus strongly influenced Joseph Banks (who sailed to New South Wales with James Cook) and later Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Charles Darwin's Voyage around the world (1831-1836) 27 Dec 1831 Charles Darwin left England on Beagle's second voyage to Tierra del Fuego (South America) 17 Jan 1832 Arrived at Cape Verde, an island named after Cap Vert peninsula in Senegal, West Africa 28 Feb 1832 Arrived at Bahia, Brazil 4 Apr 1832 Arrived at Rio de Janeiro Jul 1832 Uruguay Aug 1832 Argentina While there, saw the remains of a 4 tonne Megatherium (Giant Sloth 5 million years - 2.5 million years old) 1833 Still in Argentina 1834 Chile Sep 1835 Arrived at Galapagos Islands, located about 1,000 km west of continental Ecuador (a country named after the Equator) 30 Oct Sailed to Tahiti 15 Nov Reached Tahiti 19 Dec 1835 Reached New Zealand. Stayed 11 days. But not impressed with natives, "filthy homes", also saw runaway convicts from Aus. Missionary Richard Matthews, who had been with ship since start, left there in NZ with his brother who was ministering in what Darwin considered "much improved surroundings". 12 Jan 1836 Reached Sydney, then Hobart, then King George Sound on the South Coast just below Swan River Colony in Western Australia. Impressed with quiet respectability of aborigines. 1 Apr 1836 Reached Keeling (Cocos) Islands in the Indian Ocean, located about 1,000 km west of Christmas Island. Christmas Island (which Darwin did not visit) is located 1,500 km north-west of the Australian mainland, and 350 km south of Java. 29 Apr Reached Mauritius. Mauritius is an island located 2,000 km east of southern Africa. It was ruled by the Dutch (1598-1710), by France (1715-1810), by the British during the Napoleonic Wars in 1810 and who in the process rescued naval explorer Matthew Flinders who had been detained there for over 6 years. The British formalized the takeover of the island in 1814. 31 May South Africa 2 Oct 1836 Arrived back in London to huge acclaim. Click here for a recent article on Darwin and Linnaeus in National Geographic.

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