1. I do agree that to a certain extent, we as a society are weighed upon by the past, and that freedom cannot be imagined or obtained without considerations for the crimes of the past even if they are somehow completely unrelated to an individual in the present. Within the United States, the most obvious manifestation of this, as mentioned in the lecture, is the example of slavery and subsequent disenfranchisement of African Americans within the country since its ending. Again as mentioned, the enslavement of Africans and African Americans benefitted essentially every other individual, and every system present in the country, expanding the country’s wealth, therefore its power, and setting in motion the establishment of new systems that later only benefitted other Americans. Our country is literally built upon the most brutal system of slavery ever devised, whether the south or the north.
A common counterpoint to the mentality posed by the question of modern responsibility for these historical crimes, “My ancestors never owned slaves” or “I wasn’t a slaver,” ignores and trivializes the fact that the systems enjoyed by individuals within America today and historically are and were applied with gross inequivalence, benefitting far in favor white Americans over minority groups if benefitting the latter at all, many of these biases originating from a time when black Americans were dehumanized out of convenience. The point isn’t that currently living people must pay for the sins of their ancestors, it’s that currently living people in positions of relative privilege have a responsibility to combat any lingering remnants of those sins that continue to harm the historically underprivileged, and that failure to do so is equivalent to complicity in their continuation.
2. I would say the problem of the freedom of the individual vs. the collective demand of the clan goes unresolved in Hamlet. Despite the internal conflict he faces about the feeling of being forced to seek justice for his father once he learns the truth, Hamlet at no point denies it. The how and when do become points of debate, with Hamlet even once sparing Claudius judging the moment to be improper, but he still goes through with it in an elaborate plot that kills every character of note in the play, wiping out the entirety of the clan, and even handing a foreign kingdom a chance to invade and seize control of Denmark in a coincidentally opportunistic strike. In short, in the context of Hamlet, the weight of the collective forcing the hand of the free individual results in the destruction of both. There is no way to reconcile them within the given situation; one of the two must be lost, and in such strong conflict, both are. Maybe this interpretation wasn’t explicitly intended by Shakespeare, but in the context of this question, I struggle to see how a viewer could decide differently.
3. I think the emerging answer is that 2312 is a critique of the short-sightedness of our current systems of governance, of the mentality of the liberal tradition that individuals have the freedom to do whatever they desire so long as it does not infringe upon the desires of others. It’s not criticism of that idea, it’s criticism of the extent to which we judge infringement. With the discussion of the insanity of the overlapping, interweaving systems of bureaucracy that mire any possible solution to the devastation of Earth and the damaged lives of those who still live there, and the introduction of forced change through the re-establishment of an ecosystem, perhaps Robinson is suggesting that the liberal concept must be extended so that individual freedoms last until they infringe not only upon the concerns of others, but also of individuals who have yet to be, including a thriving biosphere right here on Earth.
As mentioned in the lecture with Wahram’s discussion of the Florida project, another suggestion may be that part of the solution is to attempt to entwine the interests of the individual with the focus of the collective. All societies are loosely bound by common desire anyway (the American Dream!), and by a collective shift in the desires of the individuals of the collective, most likely stimulated by situational necessity, we can leverage the collective to save its individuals.