The latest Gallup poll shows that a clear majority of Americans rate “the state of moral values” to be poor, in America (they were not asked about elsewhere). And by an overwhelming majority (83 percent), they think that these moral values are getting worse. Among Republicans, this worsening is declared to be more or less total (97 percent), compared to Democrats (74 percent). If the Republicans were indisputably in power, nationally, I imagine these numbers might be reversed.

But note, the proportion of the despairing is the highest, in all categories, since Messrs Gallup first thought of measuring public attitudes in this (asinine) way.

In fact, public morals have always been low, as we might learn from reading some detailed history. My insertion of the word “despairing” in the last paragraph was illegitimate; the proportion of those who actually despair must be much smaller. The properly despairing kill themselves, and not all of these in response to the perceived decline in moral values.

One does not have to be a jolly soul, to think that the world is, over all, at its worst, — not bad. Indeed, being a jolly soul is an end in itself, quite regardless of social conditions. One of my (frequent) disputes with modernity is the notion that jolliness needs a cause, and that it can be identified by such as pollsters and scienticists. On the other hand, I think that it may positively exist, and that it works against suicide.

But jolliness, like a high state of moral values, is something only possible to the individual person. To assess it socially is to fall for a political presumption that has pestered us, and certain prominent philosophers, for the last few centuries. It is one of those dubious terms gliding from late Latin into mediaeval French, then twisted through “The Enlightenment” with mechanistic torque. It declares that there is such a thing as “humanity,” and that it can behave like a creature.

In reality, all creatures, including humans, are distinct.