On Sunday the people of Greece can hit back at the eurozone's busted economic system that is slowly strangling them. Their battle is ours too
Greek protesters support their government against EU-IMF austerity
Europe's top politicians agree that the Greeks will vote this Sunday
on one of the most important questions facing any nation. Yet they can't settle what that question actually is. For Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, it is about whether his people will tolerate any more "strict and humiliating austerity
". Not so, says Germany's Angela Merkel. She reckons the Greeks are choosing between staying in the euro and returning to the drachma
. The stakes are raised higher still by the boss of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker: come next weekend, "the whole planet
" will find out whether Greece wants to remain in Europe.
All of these may be correct, but each swerves the central importance of the moment. The reason to watch Greece this week is because a population of 11 million will hold a contest that the rest of us may one day also get to stage: a fight between democracy, and a broken political and economic system.
That battle - between what people want and what their rulers force down their throats, supposedly for their own good - can be glimpsed at every dramatic moment in Greece's recent history.
It was already there in spring 2010, when the then prime minister, George Papandreou, begged Merkel not to crush his country with austerity, and she coolly replied: "We want to make sure nobody else will want this
." It marched into clear view in summer 2011 as ordinary Greeks swarmed cities demanding an alternative to their venal political elite and the Eurocrats and financiers who pulled the strings.