In response to:

A Document of Our Time from the October 31, 1974 issue

To the Editors:

The message from victims of political repression in Czechoslovakia [NYR October 31] on the situation in their country and in Chile is indeed an impressive statement. I would like to add a brief comment on a matter of personal concern that can serve as a further illustration of their point.

Dr. Karel Culík is an outstanding applied mathematician, a specialist in algebra, logic, computer sciences and mathematical linguistics. In 1965 he visited the linguistics research program at MIT, and we have worked together on several projects since. In 1968 he was appointed full Professor at the University of Brno, and in 1971 he moved to the Research Institute of Mathematical Machines in Prague.

For reasons intelligible only to other agencies of repression, from 1969 he was not permitted to travel abroad to scientific meetings or to visit foreign universities, nor was he allowed to publish scientific work in Czechoslovakia or abroad. In 1970, he was dismissed, rather brutally, from the Mathematical Institute of the Academy of Science. With no possibility of pursuing his work in his own country, he applied for an exit visa in September 1973. When this was rejected, he applied for an emigration visa in October. Shortly after, he was dismissed from his position at the Research Institute, and since February 1, 1974 he has been without employment. His wife, a PhD in logic, has also been denied professional employment. Requests to the Federal Administration for Passports and Visas, by Culík himself and by numerous colleagues abroad, were ignored. Finally, his application for emigration was rejected with the statement that there would be no further possibility for appeal. The reason given was that his emigration would “not be in agreement with state interests.” Apparently, the same “state interests” require that he be prevented from pursuing his scientific work and from publishing, at home or abroad, on such dangerous topics as mathematical theory of languages and applied logic. Meanwhile, his personal situation, and that of his family, can easily be imagined.

I am sure that this is by no means the worst example that might be cited. It does, however, serve to illustrate the actual situation that is ignored by the Union of Czechoslovak Lawyers when they hypocritically denounce the horrendous events in Chile.

Noam Chomsky


Cambridge, Massachusetts