New Modality Catalyst:
Samo Burja, political science researcher
Samo Burja is investigating how societies can understand themselves well enough so they don't fall apart — as so many have throughout history. He is also one of our Catalysts. Here's a bit more about him.
What's your quick bio?
I'm the founder of Bismarck Analysis, a consulting firm that investigates the institutional landscape of society, usually in political risk. Bismarck uses the foundational research that my team and I have done over the past decade to deliver unique insights to clients about institutional design and strategy.
My research focuses on the social and material technologies that provide the foundation for healthy human societies, with an eye to engineering and restoring the structures that produce functional institutions. I've spoken about my work at conferences such as the World Economic Forum at Davos and Y Combinator’s YC 120. I spend most of my time in San Francisco and my native Slovenia.
“The past is littered with once-flourishing societies that decayed and died. Our own society is unlikely to be an exception unless we take the right actions.”
What’s your biggest, most out-there dream of a better world?
The past is littered with once-flourishing societies that decayed and died. Our own society is unlikely to be an exception unless we take the right actions. I dream of a society that understands itself well enough to survive and thrive indefinitely. The ultimate goal of my work is to develop this knowledge.
I grew up in the former Yugoslavia during its cataclysmic dissolution. I’ve lived through a societal breakdown, and so my understanding of these problems is personal. The human cost of societal decay is tremendous. There is the obvious tragedy of violence and destruction, but there are also more hidden costs, like lost knowledge, lost opportunity, and lost hope. Understanding how to avert such failures would be one of the greatest imaginable benefits to humanity, and achieving this is my deepest motivation.
What are your favorite links that will help our audience learn about you, your life, your work, and your values?
Civilization: Institutions, Knowledge and the Future, a talk I gave for the Foresight Institute, is a good introduction to my work.
My essay "Why America Prefers a Weak and Peaceful Europe" in the National Interest is an example of how I apply my foundational research to interpret current events.
My book draft Great Founder Theory, currently on my website, gives the most complete articulation of my worldview.
New Modality Catalysts
The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.
This profile was edited by Michael J. Coren. Michael is a journalist focused on business, technology, and science — especially climate science — living in San Francisco. More about him at his NewMo profile
The information in our Catalyst profiles usually comes directly from the subjects, and we usually don't fact-check them. You can learn more about The New Modality's fact-checking and epistemological ideas by reading the page about our process for truth and transparency.