I’m convinced that my depression – of which I’m deeply ashamed, as my generation was expected to be: ‘pull yourself together, man!’ – is mainly due to some chemical imbalance in my brain, for which I’m taking tablets. (‘Fluoxetin’. I’m not sure that they work – I still feel chronically ‘down’ – but how do I know I’ll not feel worse without them?)
Whatever lies at the root of it, however, my worst moods are certainly triggered by politics, both at home and abroad. Currently they’re triggered – every morning when I wake up – by recalling the appalling political situation we have now in Britain: with a pretty extreme right-wing government hoisted into power by means of trickery and lies; a Labour ‘Opposition’ – the inverted commas are necessary – devoted to cleansing itself of all traces of the Social Democracy that defined Labour’s identity in its greatest and most effective years in government, including by expelling any member who dares to criticise Israel, even anti-Zionist Jews, and of course Jeremy Corbyn, who however ‘unelectable’ he might have seemed in 2019 offered easily the best solution to the Brexit ‘problem’, and was at least able to stimulate some enthusiasm – not a terribly common ingredient in modern British politics – amongst the young, who are going to inherit this world we oldies are fucking up for them; and, lastly – amongst these ‘triggers’ of my depression – an electoral system that makes it difficult to see how any of this can be mended, at least before the next General Election, due in May 2024, and maybe not even then.
I explore some of the deeper causes of this situation in the final chapters of my Patriot’s Guide to British History (about which, incidentally, I still haven’t heard from my publisher). One of these causes is undoubtedly the cleverness of those who conspired to bring about Brexit, for reasons of their own – mainly to ‘complete the Thatcher revolution’, as a few of them openly admitted – with quite remarkable success: playing on the grievances of ordinary people, with the help of rich backers and a highly partisan popular press, untruths on the sides of buses (or was it only the one?), and in the knowledge of the devious ways in which Britain’s ‘democracy’ could be manipulated both to achieve their immediate ends, and – probably – to sustain those ends in perpetuity. I don’t want to make too much of this, for fear of being labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’; just as I’m unwilling to place too much emphasis on the part played by the British Board of Deputies in the smearing of Corbyn, which certainly had some effect in 2019. But there can be little doubt that the deeply flawed nature of Britain’s electoral system – not just ‘FPTP’ but also the character of her public discourse – made it a good pitch for ‘conspirators’ to bowl on; shattering the wickets of what used to be known as the ‘Gentlemen’. (As against the ‘Players’, or professionals. For Americans, that’s a reference to cricket.)
Isn’t this enough to make one depressed? Even without the chemistry?