At times there is a certain type of theology that intersects with revolutionary events. It is necessary, however, to clearly designate exactly what kind of theology we are speaking about. We must be clear here because it is equally certain that not all theologies cross revolutionary phenomena but, on the contrary, there are some theologies that cross the opposite of revolution: namely, pure ideological reproduction of Empire.
Theology becomes important for revolutionary thinking when charity and love (agape and amor) are assumed to be unrestrainable powers*/where, in other words, the same logos, the same rationality is placed at love’s disposal. From this point of view, amor has first an epistemological, and then soteriological, importance. That is, it is love that individuates which are the forces and the powers that can develop the common and, through the common, realizes more and more charity. This epistemo- logical power of love is joined to a power of liberation. Liberation here emerges as a thorough materialism, which moves from a focus on soteriology to all-out revolution. In this sense, it is necessary to try to understand what is the relation between charity and poverty, love and poverty*/that is, the relation between theology and history, theology and politics.
There are two paths. The first is one in which poverty is equated with power, and so the relation between theology and politics is possible because poverty is the capacity to express different forms of love, the organization of passions, and ultimately the unfolding of desire. In the second, poverty is that flat and desperate situation that only the transcendental can redeem. It is clear that it is only the first conception of poverty that can make amor operational. That is, it is clear that only the nonmystical determination of poverty can give love a political role.
Mysticism, in fact, subtracts everything from poverty, reducing it to misery. By defining it in relation to the divinity in spiritual terms only, it looks toward the neutralization of the power of poverty and the desire immanent in it. And that is the role of religion. By contrast, the theology of liberation is the attempt to oppose a historical conception of poverty, as the capacity for creating revolt, to the merelyspiritual and inoffensive conception of religion – better said, of logos. A conception of poverty that unfolds through love implies a common openness and a collective disposition, spatial and temporal dislocations of fabricated goods. It is configured as an alternative dynamic of life against the identity of closure of the conception of poverty meant in spiritualistic terms.
~ Antonio Negri, “Materialism and Theology: A Conversation”