Along with with his studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he enteres L’Institut d’études politiques et sociales de Paris (known as Sciences Po), from which he will be temporarily suspended that year for disciplinary reasons.
Under the direction of Michel Serres, he defended his undergraduate thesis titled “Formation et Déplacement des concepts scientifiques selon Georges Canguilhem” [Development and Transfer of Scientific Concepts According to Georges Canguilhem].
Parallel to this, he contributes to the daily newspaper Combat, edited by Philippe Tesson, for which he makes an extensive report on the war in Northern Ireland as well as a number of reports on rural France.
June 1971: awarded eighth place in the philosophy agrégation, the highly competitive national competition for recruiting professors in France.
In September, under the supervision of the economist and historian Charles Betelheim (who introduces him to Louis Althusser), he declares his Master’s thesis topic, “impérialisme and colonialisme interne” [imperialism and internal colonialism].
In November, responding to André Malraux’s call to organize an international brigade in support of Bangladesh, he heads to India, then to Bangladesh itself, where he spends several months: first, as a war correspondent for the daily newspaper Combat, then as a temporary civil attaché in charge of planning for the young government headed by Mujibur Rahnan, the first president of Bangladesh.
This long visit to Bangladesh will supply the material for his first book, Bangladesh, Nationalisme dans la Révolution, published in 1973 in the prestigious series Cahiers Libres published by Les Editions Maspéro, one of the rallying points of the extreme left at the time. This work will be republished in 1985 by Le Livre de Poche, under the title Les Indes Rouges.
Upon returning to France he teaches at the Lycée de Luzarches near Paris, then, for two years at the Université de Strasbourg, where he teaches a course in epistemology, and then at the Ecole Normale Supérieure where he directs a seminar on the theme “Nietzsche’s Politics”. From a first marriage with Isabelle Doutreluigne (deceased in 2004), his daughter Justine-Juliette is born. Breaking with the ideology of the extreme left, he is chosen by François Mitterrand to join the think tank Le Groupe des Experts, including such figures as Michel Rocard, Laurent Fabius, Edith Cresson, Pierre Bérégovoy, Jacques Attali, and Jean-Pierre Chevènement. Asked to study the topic of joint worker–management control, he remains there, until 1976.
In anticipation of the legislative campaign in the Coutances (Manche) region of France, François Mitterrand chooses to place him on the list of candidates; however, for technical reasons, it will be impossible for Bernard-Henri Lévy to pursue the project to its ultimate conclusion in the elections of March 1973.
During this period, having attracted the attention of Françoise Verny, he joins the publishing house Grasset as the editor of three series (Enjeux, Figures, Théoriciens), before becoming the leader in 1976 of the “New Philosophers”, along with Jean-Paul Dollé, Christian Jambet, Guy Lardreau, André Glucksman, Jean-Marie Benoist among others.
He meets Philippe Tesson, edits the “Ideas” section of the daily newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris, contributes to Le Nouvel Observateur, and resigns his university position.