Image: (detail) "Suprematistische Komposition." Nina Kogan. 1921
Lensic Performing Arts Center
Community Event
  US Mountain Time
Henry Farrell and Francis Spufford

When Francis Spufford wrote Red Plenty, his celebrated novel about Soviet economic planning, he couldn't have anticipated the reaction. Some saw it as a parable of the problems of capitalism after the financial crisis, others as an elegant demonstration in fictional form that capitalism never had any real alternative. Still others read it as a license to revive the dream of the planned economy. Were the vast economic apparatuses of Amazon and Walmart actually a blueprint for how to do socialism at scale? Now, as Silicon Valley tries to rebuild the economy around optimizing algorithms and AGI, old debates over markets and planning are opening up again. In this conversation, Henry Farrell interviews Spufford about the old dream of socialist optimization and the new debates that have arisen since. Francis Spufford will be signing copies of Red Plenty, and his most recently published novel, Cahokia Jazz, in the Lensic lobby starting at 6:30 pm. David Krakauer will introduce the discussion.

Henry Farrell is SNF Agora Institute Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and 2019 winner of the Friedrich Schiedel Prize for Politics and Technology. He works on a variety of topics, including democracy, the politics of the Internet and international and comparative political economy. He has written articles and book chapters as well as three books,  The Political Economy of Trust: Interests, Institutions and Inter-Firm Cooperation, published by Cambridge University Press, and (with Abraham Newman) Of Privacy and Power: The Transatlantic Fight over Freedom and Security, published by Princeton University Press, and Underground Empire: How America Weaponized the World Economy (with Abraham Newman), forthcoming from Henry Holt (US) and Penguin (UK).

Francis Spufford FRSL (born 1964) is an English author and teacher of writing whose career has seen him shift gradually from non-fiction to fiction. His first novel Golden Hill received critical acclaim and numerous prizes including the Costa Book Award for a first novel, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Ondaatje Prize. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Free tickets to this event are available via the Lensic Performing Arts Center's box office. Please click here to secure your tickets.  This discussion will also be streamed live via SFI's YouTube channel, and recorded for future viewing.

The 2024 Santa Fe Institute Community Lecture Series is free to attend thanks to generous sponsorship by the McKinnon Family Foundation, with additional support from the Santa Fe Reporter, and the Lensic Performing Arts Center.


SFI Host: 
Caitlin McShea

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