We had the hippies and the yuppies, says Louis Elton in UnHerd, and now we have the “Bopeas”: the “Bohemian Peasantry”. This emergent social group consists of downwardly mobile creative types who can’t afford to buy houses in London, or to replicate their parents’ lifestyle. So, rejecting the “refined hedonism” of urban life, they embrace “a neo-medieval peasant worldview” rooted in “community values, rituals and natural rhythms”. One woman I met had ditched an east London photography job to run an “enchanted sauna” in a Sussex forest. Bopeas also enjoy wild swimming, knitting, foraging and fermenting.
Bopeanism is a kind of “post-internet Arts and Crafts movement”, reacting against ad agencies and tech start-ups rather than “soulless Victorian workhouses”. In place of John Ruskin and William Morris, Bopeas have King Charles, with his “tireless environmentalism” and “mystic outlook”, and Taylor Swift, whose recent aesthetic goes heavy on knitted cardigans and forests. Other “Bopea elders” include Jeremy Clarkson, who has quite literally started a farm, and Tilda Swinton, who set up a tiny Steiner school in rural Scotland where “phones are banned and children must learn to care for bees”. The Bopeas may “go the same way as the hippies” and be stripped for parts by novelty-hungry corporations. But they seem more robust than their ancestors – rather than simply having a “set of aesthetics” you can pick up and discard, they have “a mindset inspired by a hunger for timelessness”.