Marin Cogan, "Payroll tax deal: Will House frosh comply?", Politico 12/22/2011, quoting Mo Brooks (R Alabama):
“It is most unfortunate that so many elected officials in Washington have a greater focus on November 2012’s elections than on sound public policy or advancing America’s interests. Both the House and Senate plans are fiscally reckless and should be deposited on the dump heap of history,” he said.
Google Books has 36 results for "dump heap of history". But I felt that this metaphor has usually been expressed in other words, and Google Books confirms:
|trash heap of history||530|
|dust heap of history||493|
|ash heap of history||482|
|trash can of history||458|
|dust bin of history||438|
|scrap heap of history||432|
|rubbish heap of history||414|
|dust pile of history||231|
|dung heap of history||124|
And so on… (In each case, I've given the number of citations actually presented by the search, not the number given on the first page of hits as the approximate count.)
What's the original source? Or is this a sort of folk-metaphor with many origins or re-inventions?
The Wikipedia entry for Ash heap of history tells us that
The ash heap of history (or often garbage heap of history or dustbin of history) is a figurative place to where objects such as persons, events, artifacts, ideologies, etc. are relegated when they are forgotten or marginalized in history.
The expression—or something like it—was coined by Leon Trotsky in response to the Mensheviks walking out of the Second Congress of Soviets, on October 25, 1917 (Julian calendar), thereby enabling the Bolsheviks to establish their dominance. Trotsky declared: "Go out where you belong—into the ash heap of history." A more dramatic version of this event puts Trotsky as saying: “'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!'"
It has since been used in both the direct and the ironic sense in political and nonpolitical contexts.
But according to Charles Anderson, Puzzles and essays from 'The exchange', 2003:
The cited source seems to be Augustine Birrell, "Carlyle", in Obiter Dicta, 1884:
Imaginary joys and sorrows may extort from him nothing but grunts and snorts; but let him only worry out for himself, from that great dust-heap called 'history,' some undoubted fact of human and tender interest, and, however small it may be, relating possibly to some one hardly known, and playing but a small part in the events he is recording, and he will wax amazingly sentimental, and perhaps shed as many real tears as Sterne or Dickens do sham ones over their figments.
The 1884 date applies to the fourth edition — I haven't been able to determine the original date of publication. But a Google Books search for "ash|trash|dust|rubbish|garbage|scrap|dump|dung heap|bin|can|pile of history" turns up plenty of pre-1917 examples in English — and presumably there are also earlier examples in Russian and other languages:
"The Duel of the Nations", in The eclectic magazine of foreign literature, science, and art, Volume 12, 1870:
The three unpopular ruling houses that had divided the northern half of Germany against Prussia were swept away into the dust-bin of history, and Hanover, Cassel, and Nassau made part of the enlarged kingdom of Hohenzollern.
Edward Everett Hale, "My Time and What I've Done with It", in Old and new, Volume 8, 1873:
It is thus that ignorant prejudices are fostered ; and how few of us in afterlife have the time or the will to sift the rubbish of the dust-bin of history on the chance of discovering the diamond of truth.
Whatever else we forget and grow weary of in human annals, whatever else becomes obsolete, and, like "Priam's refuse sons," goes to swell the rubbish heap of history, men's achievements in art are not of this kind.
James C. Welling, "The rise and fall of authority", in The North American Review, 1884:
It is because the old scholasticism with its strife of words had finally sharpened the minds of men into a perception of its own unprofitableness, that that system of verbal philosophy, which did good service in its day by clarifying the doctrine of concepts and purifying the language of science, was forever relegated to the dust-bin of history at the Revival of Learning.
And for lagniappe, here's Oscar Wilde's review of "A New Calendar", Pall Mall Gazette 2/17/1887:
MOST modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event. Their compilers display a degraded passion for chronicling small beer, and rake out the dust-heap of history in an ardent search after rubbish. Mr. Walter Scott, however, has made a new departure and has published a calendar in which every day of the year is made beautiful for us by means of an elegant extract from the poems of Mr. Alfred Austin.
So it seems that by the 1880s, versions of this phrase were already in fairly common use to express two different metaphors: a place to discard people, institutions, and ideas that are no longer useful; and a place to look for interesting or precious things that have been overlooked or forgotten.
And by the early 1900s, it seems that versions of this phrase were stereotypically associated with the attitude of revolutionaries towards their enemies. Thus Silas Weir Mitchell gives the line to Thomas Jefferson, in reference to the French Revolution (The Red city: a novel of the second administration of President Washington, 1908):
Presently Schmidt said to Jefferson: "There is sad news from France, Mr. Secretary."
"Good news, Citizen; altogether good. What if men die that a people may live? Men die in war. What is the difference? Titles will go, a king be swept on to the dust-heap of history."
I suspect that the phrase may have gained currency in the works of the socialist movements of the late 19th century, though I haven't seen other evidence of this. But there's no question that after 1917, there was a strong association with left-wing attitudes towards the fate of anciens régimes.
Jefferson gets the role again in Mary P. Hamlin and George Arliss, Hamilton: a play in four acts, 1918:
Tallyrand: You call that dirty rag a symbol of Liberty? I call it a symbol of license, of lawlessness, of murder. What say you, Thomas Jefferson, to the murder of my king, Louis of France? Is that, too, a smbol of Liberty, of Fraternity?
Jefferson: It is the will of the pople. The time is not far distant, Citizen Tallyrand, when every king in Europe will have been swept into the dust heap of history.
And through the next decades, this phrase's association with revolutionary outcomes maintains its strength:
On March 15, 1917, the blood-soaked regime of the Czar of All the Russians was swept into the dust bin of history. ["Who and what are the Bolsheviki?", quoted in Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer on charges made against Department of justice by Louis F. Post and others, 1920]
On a sultry July day, as in summer generally, the Tverskayas and Sadovayas in Moscow 1 were dug over with trenches for drainage and pavements, throwing into the dust-heap of history old gates and churches. [Boris Pilniak, The Volga falls to the Caspian Sea, 1931.]
Hell has resolved itself into 'the dust-heap of history.' Purgatory is that limbo in which mortals must remain until they have, proven themselves worthy of admission to that most celestial band known as 'the party. [Hamilton Basso, Wine of the Country, 1941.]
In October of 1917, both the ruling classes and their eulogists were thrown on the dust-heap of history. [The Modern Quarterly, 1947.]
The giant landowners, domestic and foreign, and the emirs, pashas, chieftains, and princes have to be laid in the dust heap of history, where they belong. [Kumar Goshal, People in Colonies, 1948.]
The Soviet Union stands strong and invincible; the democratic movement is growing throughout the world; whereas the Versailles "peacemakers" and the Munchen "pacifiers" are buried in the dust-heap of history … [VOKS bulletin, 1949.]
… nationalist riffraff who are on the dump heap of history, were accompanied by malicious anti-Soviet propaganda, slandering of Soviet Ukraine and Ukrainian historiography, and hypocritical scribbling in pseudo-scientific journals, [Digest of the Soviet Ukrainian press, 1960.]
Our successes confirm again and again the utter bankruptcy of the skeptics and whiners, whom life has cast on the dump heap of history. [Current Soviet policies, 1962.]
It is clear to everyone that these excuses for ideas, picked up on the dump heap of history, are incapable of withstanding the all-conquering force of Marxism-Leninism. [The Current Digest of the Soviet Union, 1963.]
While retaining the association with revolutionary outcomes, the phrase began to switch from left to right with a bold choice by Ronald Reagan (or one of his speechwriter)s in his 1982 address to the British Parliament. As Wikipedia explains
Reagan's speechwriter chose the expression deliberately because of its prior context. His exact phrase was: "… freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history."
My impression is that in recent years, the metaphor has become equally distributed across the political spectrum, as "conservatives" have become increasingly interested in promoting radical change.