Is Antifa just a group of 'lawless thrill-seekers?'

The Washington Post has a story today which suggests that maybe, just maybe, Antifa’s motives aren’t as selfless or noble as they claim. Maybe these are a bunch of young people with not very much else going on in their lives who like the excitement Antifa represents. Case in point, 20-year-old high school dropout Sean Hines:

“I did get pepper-sprayed in the face once, but I enjoyed it,” he said of the second “Battle of Berkeley.” “I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so things like that kind of excite me.”

For Hines, antifa is the latest in a succession of left-wing causes. He first took an interest in anarchism four years ago. At one point, he was aligned with the Irish Republican Army. He now calls himself a “libertarian socialist,” communist and antifa.

He said the movement has helped him through a difficult 18 months. In April 2016, he dropped out of high school about the time he assaulted a Whole Foods security guard.

“I tried to steal a bottle,” he said. “I was pretty out of it.”

Hines, who said he suffers from addiction, completed a diversion program and the charges were dropped. He has spent the past six months in halfway houses, where he has a curfew and must pass nightly breathalyzer tests. He was logging hours each day on Facebook, debating politics. Eventually, he decided to stop debating and act.

“I wanted a purpose. I wanted an identity. That’s the reason why I became part of antifa,” he said. “I wanted to fight for something.”

Mike Isaacson, described as an anarchist adjunct professor, tells the Post, “A lot of people are coming into antifa because of the thrill of violence, and that’s not what we’re about.” Isn’t it though? Isn’t political violence the real distinctive of Antifa? Put another way, would Antifa still be Antifa if they ruled out violence? I don’t think so.

Everyone turning up to a rally in a mask and body armor is looking for a thrill. The potential for lawless behavior (toward property and people) is the draw. A willingness to risk arrest is a sign of commitment, just as it was at Occupy camps in 2011. The story suggests violence is also what gives members credibility within the group. Hines tells the Post, “Most people I know love me now.” He adds, “I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve become pretty popular.” I’m sure he is popular among a narrow group of far left 20 somethings. And you can bet that’s part of the appeal to do this again.