LIKE many a dad of daughters, no doubt, I’ve been watching the oceanic journey of Swedish climate icon Greta Thunberg in her sailboat (the trip concluded on Wednesday). And my heart has regularly been in my mouth.

One Twitter video – I assume from her point-of-view – shows waves crashing voluminously onto the deck of the boat, rushing right into her cabin.

Another shot shows Thunberg holding up her “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for the climate) banner. Her usual seriousness is framed by the famous braids. Around her, the vessel tilts alarmingly to starboard, somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. Greta!

There’s a range of responses to Thunberg’s militancy. I fall hard on the side of those who are inspired and deeply supportive.

Of course, she’s remarkable partly because of her Asperger’s condition. She lives in a black-and-white world, in which the hypocrisy and inaction of adults around climate change literally paralysed and muted her.

Thunberg’s commitment to direct action, lining up her understanding and her behaviour (and urging others to do the same), concretely improved her mental health.

There is, therefore, a clarity about Greta, which compels those who watch her to accept the same challenge. If you grant legitimacy to the warnings of major international bodies like the IPCC on the imminence of climate disaster, can you go along with your same old routines – comfortable to you, but toxic to the planet?

But what I am even more struck by is the way that Thunberg is part of a vast wave of contemporary protest that has one common element: people, predominantly the young, putting their bodies in the way of power.

Greta exemplifies it. She started her school strikes by sitting down in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm every Friday, making the case that “there’s no point in studying for my future if I don’t actually have a future”.

Lashing her slight frame to a transatlantic yacht, to make a point about the massive carbon emissions of air travel, is again body politics, as much as it is rational advocacy.

Similar to previous events, the global school climate strike on September 20th will fill our streets with the exuberance of children and young adults – freeing themselves from their classrooms, playing and displaying their way into the hearts and minds of their elders.

It is an unexpected, but transformational challenge to any state authority, and particularly those in Britain. How many young people would you arrest and detain, out of these joyous crowds?

Extinction Rebellion (often shortened to XR), which emerged in synchrony with the School Strikes, also welcomes the young – and for that matter, the untethered old – into its street occupations.

XR’s coming month of action is in October (its strategy and tactics are under wraps, for obvious reasons). But they will rely, as before, on the bodily commitment of younger “Rebels”.

Rebels are those who are willing to glue, chain and entwine themselves to the surfaces of powerful institutions. Once they are separated by the police, they embrace and welcome their physical arrest.

This body politics is spreading. Faced with the potential “coup” that is Boris Johnson proroguing parliament for five weeks, the journalist, economist and activist Paul Mason urged his followers to start building “a mass peaceful movement of civil disobedience”.

“There are not enough security guards, police or cameras”, wrote Mason on the Vice website, “to prevent every public space – from a football match to Westfield on a Saturday afternoon – becoming the venue for some goodnatured and peaceful symbolic action that starts a conversation and calls people onto the streets.”

He continues: “I’ve learned – from reporting the Arab Spring, Occupy, the Greek crisis and the Gaza war – that the most important question in a crisis is: ‘Where am I going to put my body?’ By turning this from an issue about Brexit into an issue about democracy, Johnson just gave millions of people a reason to ask themselves that question.”

For tactics, Mason is looking to the Hong Kong protestors against the Chinese authorities. “Be water” is their slogan, taken from martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. This means that they try to act as unpredictably and unmanageably as possible when faced with a militarised police force and a surveillance state whose technology can recognise your face. (So, all that different here?)

They use Airdrop on their Apple phones to pass messages to each other when the authorities shut the networks down. They create unique sign-language to manage protests as they happen. They use traffic cones to funnel tear gas bombs, and lasers to confuse the AI-driven spy cameras,

Most interestingly, they deliberately refuse to have “leaders” (who were easily arrested in the first Hong Kong “Umbrella” uprisings in 2014). And there’s a rather beautiful distinction that some of them make when described as being “leaderless” movements.

Inspired by those in the US protest network Black Lives Matter, these protestors say that they are, instead, “leader-full” movements. That is, many step up to assume responsibility for action and organising when it is necessary, and step down when it’s not.

Leadership is “ordinary people doing extraordinary things”, as BLM’s co-founder Alicia Garza puts it.

And as those startling pictures from a few years ago remind you, where a young black American woman stood proudly before a wall of armed police in Baton Rouge, bodies are literally on the line here.

What is the take on this new body politics, from the perspective of Scottish indy politics? One can’t deny the differences, perhaps even the diffidence.

The only direct actions the SNP has ever been happy with is a crisp stride to the polling booth, and perhaps an orderly, flag-festooned march to an agreed resting point.

Even the disciplined thrumming of the Yes Bikers seems to mildly panic much of the SNP leadership.

(Though the direct activism of anti-nuclear campaigners within the indy movement is generally honoured.)

And you can see their point. Civic and constitutional advance, steady participation in the public sphere, laid the bricks and mortar of Miralles’ building at the foot of the Royal Mile.

Consensus among the voters creeps, poll by poll, towards an independence majority.

Should those increments be reversed by Nats supergluing themselves to Trident trucks, or Alister Jack’s front door?

I’m genuinely ambivalent about this. One on hand, I feel lucky – as a green-leftie – that a defensible, robust counter-institution like the Scottish Parliament exists, particularly at this time of systemic crisis.

If body politics is on the rise across these islands, it will be partly driven by the sheer ruin of Westminster democracy.

(Indeed, XR’s plan for citizens’ assemblies aims to precisely redress this participatory deficit).

Yet, on the other hand, the route to the ballot box for a second Indyref is, to say the least, not obvious.

We may be in a period here where gradualism – the good society secured through the improvement of institutions – is being outpaced by crisis.

Militant bodies are spilling onto the streets for every other cause. So when we point primly to official opinion polls, registering a steady uptick for independence, this might not even cut it with whatever Westminster regime is incumbent.

I’m not sure what indy-minded body politics should be. We may need subtler, gentler, more carnivalesque, more inclusive forms than the usual shouty marches.

But we do need to think about how we make the streets and squares of Scotland into places where people can feel the strength of the indy cause, happily and confidently. With arms of friendship linking everywhere.

It seems like the coming moment. If so, we should (appropriately, and no doubt with the auld reserve) join in. And maybe Greta – quiet, gently spoken yet utterly determined – is our obvious role-model.