The aim of this paper is threefold. Firstly, we intend to emphasise the systematic nature of Agamben’s project and its insistence on the creation of a supposedly new definition of philosophy as such. Secondly, we mean to show how such an endeavour is first and foremost ontological, not political, and explicitly inscribes itself within the legacy of twentieth-century philosophy’s (especially Heidegger’s) attempt to overcome metaphysics. Thirdly, we seek to problematise the all too often taken-for-granted proximity between Agamben’s ontological politicisation of philosophy and Badiou’s and Žižek’s re-launching of a “communist hypothesis” that is inextricable from a positive re-evaluation of materialism and dialectics. Our central claim is that Agamben’s thought relies on a vitalist ontology that thinks the event of language as the force of life and, consequently, that his – ultimately theological – recuperation and critique of dialectics can only be understood in this framework, that is, outside, if not against, any return to Marx.