There are several political philosophies that presume that government tends to be the solution to most societal problems as a major aspect of each philosophy.

By contrast, there are also several political philosophies that presume that private enterprise and/or people themselves lead to the best solutions for most societal problems as core to their beliefs.

These groupings of philosophies tend to fit under either a form of statism/authoritarianism or laissez faireesque/anarchism.

However, there isn't really a political philosophy that I know of that openly states (in it's platform) that takes a situational approach. By situational approach, I mean they will be open to using government or private enterprise as the solution depending on the situation. Hence...


What is the political philosophy (or adjective) that describes the following viewpoint?: "Whether government or private enterprise is the solution depends on the situation.".

  • 1
    I get the confusion. No, my question is about the situation application. In other words "whether private enterprise or a public entity works depends on each specific situation".
    – isakbob
    Oct 11, 2019 at 20:39
  • 2
    @isakbob So you are actually looking for a political philosophy which believes that free markets are a solution to some problems and government intervention a solution to other problems? That's really not clear from your question. It rather reads like you are looking for a form of society which completely rejects either approach (anarcho-communism might be such an idea, by the way). You might want to clarify your question.
    – Philipp
    Oct 11, 2019 at 21:02
  • 1
    @Philipp Edited question accordingly.
    – isakbob
    Oct 11, 2019 at 21:55
  • 4
    Isn't that just Liberal Democracy? Different countries draw the line at different places, but I don't think there are any actual countries where it's 100% government or 100% private enterprise
    – divibisan
    Oct 11, 2019 at 23:16
  • Even Putin says that the state shouldn't own everything (but at the same time that it should in strategic sectors), so I guess what you're looking for is terminology rather than exponents, which would be too many... Oct 11, 2019 at 23:42

3 Answers 3


Basically the umbrella term mixed economy covers what you ask, but there are numerous variations/degrees on that idea, some leaning to left of center, and some to the right.

In most cases, and particularly with reference to Western economies, the term "mixed economy" refers to a capitalist economy characterized by the predominance of private ownership of the means of production with profit-seeking enterprise and the accumulation of capital as its fundamental driving force. In such a system, markets are subject to varying degrees of regulatory control and governments wield indirect macroeconomic influence through fiscal and monetary policies with a view to counteracting capitalism's history of boom/bust cycles, unemployment and income disparities. In this framework, varying degrees of public utilities and essential services are provided by government, with state activity often limited to providing public goods and universal civic requirements. This includes healthcare, physical infrastructure and management of public lands. This contrasts with Laissez-faire capitalism, where state activity is limited to providing public goods and services as well as the infrastructure and legal framework to protect property rights and enforce contracts.

In reference to post-World War II Western European economic models as championed by Christian democrats and social democrats, the mixed economy is a form of capitalism where most industries are privately owned with only a small number of public utilities and essential services under public ownership. In the post-war era, European social democracy became associated with this economic model, as evidenced by the implementation of the welfare state.

As an economic ideal, mixed economies are supported by people of various political persuasions, typically centre-left and centre-right.

  • 1
    I would think Hume, and the other empiricists, would be more on point
    – user9790
    Oct 14, 2019 at 9:41
  • I would also cite Adam's and concepts of ordered liberty
    – user9790
    Oct 14, 2019 at 9:46

There is no name for this, simply because it is so widespread.

There is barely a political party of the left or right that doesn't subscribe to some role for government in managing the economy. Even the Libertarian party in the USA allows for Congress to have the role in regulating trade between the various states. Certainly every conservative party in Eurasia or America recognises some role for government. Perhaps only the most ardent anarcho-capitalists would say that government has no role here.

Similarly there is barely a political party of the left or right that doesn't allow for some level of private enterprise. That includes both the Bolshvic communist party of Russia, the Nazi fascist party in Germany, and pretty much every Labour or Socialist party in Eurasia or America. Perhaps only the most ardent anarcho-syndicalists would reject all private enterprise.

So if you are forming a set that includes {Nazis, Bolshvics, Margaret Thatcher, Jeremy Corbyn, Obama and Trump}, it is clear that "situationalism" is not a clearly defined political philosophy.


If someone would consider already mentioned mixed economy as too general I have 2 more candidates:

Social market economy / (Rhine capitalism)

In theory we keep mostly free market, but state is obliged to create a welfare system and rules required for fair competition.

Evidence-based policy

A bit too general, but on the other hand emphasis the part that it actually it's not based solely on pro-market or pro-state ideology, but on assessing the situation.

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