I’m interested in the ways the US derives rents from being a major imperial power. One way this happens is through the widespread use of English as international language. For example, people born in the US can travel and work abroad more easily. Another example is that US cultural industries can sell to a very large market — Hollywood movies can be sold not just domestically, but to the large English-speaking audience abroad (as well as the subbed/dubbed audience). (Other English-speaking countries also share these benefits to some extent.)
Because of all the “extra” profits from activities like movie-making, the cultural industry in the United States is probably a lot bigger than it otherwise would be. Accordingly, it wields more political influence than it otherwise would. This helps explain how Hollywood and the “content industry” generally can get so much of what it wants from Congress, like ever-increasing copyright extensions, or broad computer surveillance powers aimed at combating piracy. A pessimistic Metafilter poster said,
[CISPA], or a bastardization of it, will be introduced every year until people are too worn out to continue to fight it. The same thing happens with almost every modern publicly-funded stadium. The fact that we will have to fight this bill and similar bills EVERY YEAR for the foreseeable future is a testament to the fact that the system is responsive only to the continued growth of its own power.
So far online opposition to laws like SOPA, PIPA, and CISPA has proved a powerful obstacle to their success. But on the fundamentals the cultural industry looks very strong, because they are large, well-financed, and politically connected.
It’s an old story but for some reason I’d never thought of how it was connected to US influence abroad. But it makes sense. The Swedish film industry presumably just doesn’t have the scale to exert this kind of political control. The US film industry, bolstered by global US power does.
(Similarly, the US “defense” industry sector is much bigger than it otherwise would be because the US is committed to various security guarantees around the world. This in turn feeds back into US politics.)