The end (or a repeat) of history?

30 Oct 2018

In 1992, a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously announced 'the end of history', with liberal democracy and free-market capitalism winning over the alternatives. I've just spent the weekend in Berlin, where 240,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate against the rising tide of racism. They walked past buildings still riddled with bullet holes from WWII, over brass stones naming Jewish people who were rounded up and murdered, and around remnants of the wall that later divided the city - and families - for almost three decades. It made me think that perhaps nowhere, at least in recent history, should understand the pain and dislocation of an intolerant, closed society, than Germany.

Chester Cunningham is the Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway.
Chester Cunningham is the Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway.

And yet in that country today, at the heart of Europe, nearly 1 in 5 people support the far-right, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), ahead of the crumbling Social Democrats and eating away at Merkel's CDU base. And yesterday's election in Bavaria, Germany's second wealthiest state, saw the AfD win seats in parliament for the first time. Instead of the end of history, one could easily be forgiven for feeling we're on the verge of a repeat of history. On the other hand, the Greens have seen a surge of support in the country, now slightly ahead of AfD nationally. The main victim here is the vote for the established, mainstream parties. A trend we're seeing the world over.

And this, in a week when I think we were all shocked with the release of the IPCC report telling us that the world economy must be net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The world is changing. The world has to change. Fundamentally. Growth will be reinvented, whether we like it or not. To that end we're seeing a battle of ideas playing out globally. The question is: who will win? This weekend reminded me just how important next month's Xynteo Exchange/Norway (28-29 November, Oslo), sitting at the very centre of this debate, will be.

With a hugely diverse range of partners coming together (including Mastercard, Munch Museum, Yara, the City of Oslo, Verizon, Nordea, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norsk Hydro, the Research Council of Norway, Shell, OBOS, Innovation Norway, BI Norwegian Business School, Folk and the Office of Contemporary Art Norway), we have everything to play for – to help create a world that we all want to live in, without fear or prejudice, but instead built on a foundation of opportunity and love. That's worth fighting for.

This is the third in a series of blogs on connecting talent, capital and ideas from Chester Cunningham, Director of the Xynteo Exchange/Norway. For further details, please visit