Refusal

To get some sense of refusal a good source is Mario Tronti (probably ’65 or thereabouts). The worker is on the inside. He’s also one of the drivers of capitalist development. So his refusal (finally) to go squeezing himself up chimneys means (short term) longer and longer brushes and (eventually) service engineers equipped with suction pumps and leads. This is how the system survives, not by the sweep as social subject but by the Darwinian evolution of its structures and his tools. So one has to distinguish, as Tronti does, between ‘I will sleep with you tonight but then you’ll have to pay me extra’ and ‘I’m just not that kind of girl’, between a reformist refusal and its insurrectionist counterpart, between ‘a credible opposition’ (sanctioning what exists with small adjustments) and Bisca’s ‘incredible opposition’: ‘You won’t buy us off this time / with those five lire increases. / If you offer us ten we’ll want a hundred / if you offer us a hundred a thousand is what we’ll want. / … / What do we want? We want the lot.’ (Alfredo Bandelli: La ballata della Fiat, 1969) When Wittgenstein (Zettel 160) says, ‘Do not forget that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language – game of giving information,’ he is implying a similar point, that there is a refusal at the heart of poetic production with respect to the world of exchange.

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