In the 19th century, amid the turmoil of industrial capitalism's early development, French thinker Pierre-Joseph Proudhon exclaimed that 'Property is theft!' His political work is, in general, highly instructive. In particular, for those of us researching the connection between the criminalization of conduct and the existence of crime, Proudhon's remark is a fitting analogy: Criminalization is criminal!
For there to be a criminal, there must first be a crime, and for a crime to exist, there must first be an authority, namely the State, which purports to act on behalf of the public. Now, whether this means in the public interest or for the public is a different, though crucial point. Each crime recognized by the State calls upon a range of rationales for the so-called public interest. For instance, in criminalizing a drug, say marijuana, the State will muster forth an argument that draws upon moral and social concerns, as well as political and economic factors, some apparent, others perhaps hidden from first glance.