Cardiovascular Justice – 1

Once again, principles applied in our social reality can be informed by the analogy of the human body.  Justice, on one level, should govern decision-making processes.  One example of collective decisions is the distribution of resources – the economic system.  What is the human body’s macro-economic system?  The distribution of blood, one of the body’s most valuable possessions, is highly complex and awe-inspiring.  One thing that is apparent, when studying cardiovascular physiology, is that this system is governed by justice.

The 20th century was ideologically dominated by two schools of thought at opposite ends of a spectrum; and the economic systems of the world tended towards one or the other end of the spectrum (with none being purely one or the other).  One is characterized as unfettered individualism, in which people are self-interested actors competing for the accumulation of resources based on their own abilities.  The other is characterized as suffocating collectivism, in which a state machinery distributes resources according to some centrally planned equal proportion.  If we apply either of these models to the human body, we would witness disastrous results.

In a Laissez-faire model, organs compete for blood flow, maximally dilating their arteries in an attempt to secure as much blood possible; to their justification, each rightfully believes that it is an integral part of the whole organism and needs blood to survive, and thus it is in the best interest of the body that it labors to acquire blood.  There are multiple organs that have great capacity for taking cardiac output – the digestive organs and the skeletal muscles, in particular.  Each can take, say, 70% of the heart’s output.  Imagine if every organ competed according to its ability; no other organs would get any blood.  It becomes quickly evident that each organ competing towards its own self-interest would kill the body.

In a communistic model, centrally controlled factors distribute resources according to some type of equal proportion, such as weight, volume, activity, etc.  Again, death would quickly ensue.  If each organ got blood flow equalized for its weight, for instance, then organs such as the muscles and skin, which together take over half the body’s weight, would receive too much blood; while the brain and kidneys, equaling a small percentage of weight, would whither away.

How does the body determine blood flow?