It's a given that what is seen as the political "centre ground" in the West has swung rightwards, at least in economic terms, over the past 30 years. In commentary pieces, this phenomenon is frequently linked to the collapse of eastern Communist states during the 1980s, and the resulting perception that Communism is not a viable political alternative to Capitalism.
I have always been puzzled by this link. I don't understand why the collapse of one extreme of the political spectrum should automatically result in large numbers of people shifting their political views rightward. Furthermore, one could argue that the extreme right wing collapsed as a viable political viewpoint in 1945, and there was no mass stampede leftwards as a result.
It seems more likely to me that the shift to the right is far more to do with globalisation - economically this has resulted in large corporations wielding as much, if not more power than governments while socially it's stoked fears about immigration and the pace of change.
- Can the rightward shift in centre politics be linked to the collapse of Communism? (if so, how and why?)
- If not, why is it so commonly linked to the collapse of Communism, and what are the real causes?
It was not clear from the original question but this is about economic policy. I accept that in terms of social policy, things have generally become more progressive.
To commenters who are pointing out that we still have a welfare state and so on, the social safety net available has become much less generous. In addition, once-free services (at least in Europe) such as education and health are increasingly being privatized and/or charging, and tax regimes have become much more sympathetic to the wealthy.