Don’t Drink the Water

            The song I decided to write about for this week’s blog is “Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band.  Although the song does not specifically state this, it is widely considered to be about the European-American settlers taking over Native Americans’ land and the mass killings that resulted from it. Dave Matthews tells the story from the perspective of the European-American settler who certainly believes in Manifest Destiny. I’ve posted the lyrics and a link to the song below…

Come out, come out
No use in hiding
Come now, come now
Can you not see?
There’s no place here
What were you expecting
Not room for both
Just room for me
So you will lay your arms down
Yes I will call this home
Away, away
You have been banished
Your land is gone
And given me
And here I will spread my wings
Yes I will call this home
What’s this you say
You feel a right to remain
Then stay and I will bury you
What’s that you say
Your father’s spirit still lives in this place
I will silence you
Here’s the hitch
Your horse is leaving
Don’t miss your boat
It’s leaving now
And as you go I will spread my wings
Yes I will call this home
I have no time to justify to you
Fool you’re blind, move aside for me
All I can say to you my new neighbor
Is you must move on or I will bury you
Now as I rest my feet by this fire
Those hands once warmed here
I have retired them
I can breathe my own air
I can sleep more soundly
Upon these poor souls
I’ll build heaven and call it home
Because you’re all dead now
I live with my justice
I live with my greedy need
I live with no mercy
I live with my frenzied feeding
I live with my hatred
I live with my jealousy
I live with the notion
That I don’t need anyone but me
Don’t drink the water
Don’t drink the water
There’s blood in the water
Don’t drink the water

When thinking about this song in context of this class, I kept thinking about the factories in Shenzhen. The connection I kept making was between Dave Matthews’ description of the first case of American greed, taking Native American land, to one of the most recent examples, the destruction of the Chinese environment and the mistreatment of workers. It’s almost as if these factories in China are an extension of Manifest Destiny. In the 18th and 19th century it was the right to the land, and in the 21st century it is the right the latest technology and gadgets. In both instances, it did not matter who we had to exploit in order to get these things. Obviously, the mass killings of a race are on a much greater scale than what is happening in China. That, however, does not make it okay for American’s to exploit the people of China to make our gadgets.


2 comments on “Don’t Drink the Water

  1. I thought you made an interesting connection between Manifest Destiny and outsourcing today. In many ways we do exploit those in other countries to make our lives better, but I think the difference is that many of these developing countries are better off with international companies hiring workers there. I feel like it generally improves the lives of the workers, though this is generally below American standards.

  2. Good point. You have used the song to illustrate why modern critics of capitalism refer to a US empire, or imperialism on general. Instead of the more overt “we are here and are taking your land or resources,” we see a similar process of how power leads to unjust economic relations or exploitation of people and or natural resources, but under the guise of free trade or progress. Especially because alot of imperialism, especially in Asia and Africa, was less about just taking the land and more about creating local systems to insure the core countries get their cheap resources.

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