Mega-Conglomerates and international trade are not relatively knew. They are as old as civilization. The Mega Conglomerate can be dated to the days of the various East and West Indies Companies if not before. Also Llyod’s of London. There has been international banking since the Medicis if not before.
And I am a city and urban kind of guy. I like big cities and even though I am not a complete neo-liberal like Matt Y, I do believe in economies of scale and that mega-conglomerates are necessary to produce highly-advanced goods like medicine and tons of other things on an affordable level. There are 7 billion people in the world, it would cause a lot of suffering and damage to go back to isolated agricultural communities and think even the most radical among us would find such communities mind-numbingly boring.
While I agree with ND that we cannot go back to the agricultural days nor would we want to, I think this invests a lot employment at large corporations and it’s potentially problematic to think in these terms. Among other things, reliance on large corporations portends some serious employment problems. Between a third and two-thirds of jobs are produced by small businesses. Actually, it has less to do with sheer size than it does with how new or old a company is, but that tracks with size to a degree (comparatively few large corporations are new).
It should be added that, though these jobs pay less on average than large corporate jobs, it’s not quite right to think of them in terms of shops with low-paying customer service jobs. A majority of my employers have been relatively small companies (I’ve worked at or for one, maybe two corporations you’ve heard of). I’ve also interviewed at more of these places than I have at large corporations. This relates at least somewhat to my field, but I can’t say that IT people were more than half of the staff at any of these places (I was the solo IT person at one of them). These jobs tend to be less stable than megacorp jobs, and pay less in the aggregate, but they’re extremely important.
It’s not just romanticism that has Republicans and Democrats singing the praises of small business and entrepreneurship. This is, quite honestly, one of the strongest arguments for a single-payer health care system there is. (Though, I should add, that single-payer isn’t the only approach – indeed, most plans that would move us away from employer-based health care would do us some good.) It also informs my views in the other direction on taxes and employment law.
As an economy, we can’t really rely on the multinationals. They reach a certain point and they can maintain a holding pattern, or more easily find ways to do more with less people in a way that’s harder for small and growing companies.