He founds Action internationale contre la Faim [International Initiative Against Hunger], along with Jacques Attali, Françoise Giroud, Marek Halter, Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi, among others. He marries Sylvie Bouscasse, with whom he will father a son, Antonin-Balthazar-Solal. The best man at their wedding is François Mitterrand – whose friendship BHL never renounced, in spite of political disagreements and the polemic surrounding the “New Philosophers.” Bernard-Henri Lévy begins working for the international press, notably in Italy, where he writes a regular column for Corriere della Sera. He participates in the “March for Survival” in Cambodia, in conjunction with Doctors Without Borders and Action internationale contre la Faim.
L’idéologie française, denouncing “the French version of fascism” is published by Grasset. It quickly becomes the object of polemical debate in the daily and weekly press, as well as in certain scholarly journals such as Esprit. Raymond Aron expresses indignation that, through his writing, the author could be capable of “putting into peril” (sic) the Jewish community… Lévy is championed by Jean-Toussaint Desanti, Jorge Semprun, Jean-François Revel and, again, by Philippe Sollers.
Eighteen years later, on the occasion of the re-release of L’Idéologie française in pocket format by Le Livre de Poche, the French press will applaud this visionary text: regional identification, suspicion of the “cosmopolitan spirit”, hatred of intellectuals – it would be necessary for time to pass, for three major trials to shake France (Klaus Barbie, Paul Touvier, and Maurice Papon), and finally, that the extreme-right political party Le Front National and its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, take hold in the national political landscape, before the anticipatory role of this work would be recognized.
In September 1981, Bernard-Henri Lévy leaves for Afghanistan with Marek Halter and Renzo Rossellini to give three radio transmitters, purchased with funds raised in a public, European collection, to the Afghani resistance led by Commander Massoud. Thus is born Radio Free Kaboul. The “travel diary” of this journey to an Afghanistan occupied and devastated by the Soviet army is published in Le Nouvel Observateur.
An editorialist for the leftist daily Le Matin since 1981, Lévy publishes a long series of weekly “bloc-notes,” which will be collected into a volume titled “Questions de Principe” [Questions of Principle], (Denoël). He defends Israel in the face of renewed anti-Semitism following the war in Lebanon. In response to the Solidarnosc union’s resistance to Soviet rule, he publishes an impassioned “Nous sommes tous des catholiques polonais” [We are all Polish Catholics], echoing the text entitled “Nous sommes tous des juifs allemands” [We are all German Jews], of the friends of Daniel Cohn-Bendit in 1968. More critical than ever of Stalinism, Marxism, and their various residues within the ideological landscape of France, he uses his regular column in Le Matin to lead the revolt against what he calls the “old left”, and especially the “Programme Commun” [Common Programme].
He meets Joëlle Habert who is still today his assistant and trusted aide.
His editor, Françoise Verny, leaves Grasset for Les Editions Gallimard. At the same time, his friend Philippe Sollers leaves Le Seuil for Gallimard as well. Bernard-Henri Lévy considers following the trend but ultimately decides to remain faithful to Grasset, where he goes on to assume a more important role.
Putting aside nonfiction for a while, BHL publishes his first novel, Le Diable en tête (Grasset, 1984), thereby pursuing his “enquiry into evil” begun with his books of philosophy. Supported by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marthe Robert and Claude Mauriac, it wins the Medicis award. The philosopher co-sponsors, with Simone Signoret and Colulche, the anti-racism movement “SOS Racisme”, founded by Julien Dray and Harlem Désir.