Hong Kong’s protesters take pride in being leaderless. This is a very serious mistake. Without a strong leader who can not only embody their moral force, but negotiate and compromise as necessary on their behalf, they will be consigned to the status of martyrs or abject failures. There is a belief among the young these days that being leaderless is an admirable quality in a protest movement. This originated with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, if not earlier. But that movement had no clear objectives and utterly failed.
If they do not have a seasoned leader who can embody their moral claims – and also apply those moral claims diligently to the protesters themselves – then they will have no practical means of gaining ground on their adversaries. They will have to content themselves with moral righteousness absent of real-world achievements, much as terrorists do on behalf of their perceived superior religious morality.