Ash heap of history

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The phrase "ash heap of history" (or "dustbin of history"[1]) figuratively refers to the place to where persons, events, artifacts, ideologies, etc., are relegated upon losing currency and value as history. A notable usage was that of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky referring to the Mensheviks: "You are pitiful, isolated individuals! You are bankrupts. Your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on – into the dustbin of history!" in response to the Menshevik faction walking out of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets (25 October 1917) in Petrograd, which allowed the Bolshevik faction to dominate the party.[2][3][4][5]

In a speech to the British House of Commons (8 June 1982), U.S. President Ronald Reagan said that "freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history".[6]


  1. ^ Alternative versions include: "dust heap of history", "trash heap of history", "garbage heap of history", "ashcan of history" See: Safire, William (16 October 1983). "On Language; Dust Heaps of History". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Liberman, Mark (23 December 2011). "The What of History?". Language Log. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Sonne, Paul, "The Dustbunnies of History", The Oxonian Review 8 June 2009 • Issue 9.7. ISBN 978-0-571-22875-1
  4. ^ Bertrand M. Patenade (2009) Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky, Faber and Faber, pp. 193–194, 352. ISBN 978-0-571-22875-1
  5. ^ Maureen Healey (2004), "11 Dictator in a Dumpster: Thoughts on History and Garbage", in Alun Munslow, Robert A. Rosenstone, Experiments in Rethinking History (illustrated ed.), Routledge, p. 225, ISBN 978-0-415-30146-6 
  6. ^ Pipes, Richard (3 June 2002). "Ash Heap of History: President Reagan's Westminster Address 20 Years Later". Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2007.