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15 Jul, 2009 06:31

Lenin towers over New York

New York is the money centre of the world, which makes the presence of one decidedly non-capitalist statue looking down on Manhattan even more unlikely.

Atop one of the city's newest, plushest, apartment blocks stands Communist icon Vladimir Lenin.

Cracks in the economy have given way to shaky ground in New York City. However, still standing firm above Manhattan's crumbling Capitalism, is the Father of Communism.

A bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin stands resolute on the roof of Red Square, a fashionable apartment rental complex on the Lower East Side surrounded by retail stores and restaurants, and owned by a revolutionary developer.

Michael Rosen is the developer responsible for the Lenin statue.

"I wanted to do something that was visually arresting, that people would look at twice," says Rosen.

He denies supporting Lenin or Communism, but admits to using the Soviet leader's statue for controversial marketing.

The statue was originally a Soviet State-commissioned work, but was never erected following the USSR's collapse.

Rosen bought the statue and shipped it to the US in the early nineties, just as the Red Square complex was born.

The statue is three-meters tall and stares down upon and points towards Wall Street. When the statue joined New York City's skyline 18 years ago, capitalism was ascending and the Soviet Union was falling apart. Ironically, this statue has been standing as deregulation in the free market went from a supposed success to a worldwide problem.

The US unemployment rate is inching above 9.5 percent; a level not seen since 1983. Under the thumb of capitalism, Rosen says those with the least are struggling the most.

"If you’re Black, Latino and you’re not middle class, you're subject to a type of racial oppression which is debilitating," Rosen says.

It was Lenin who encouraged the masses to follow a different path, where the public trumped the elite. A century later, his words now bring inspiration across the Atlantic.

Said one passerby: "This is the way we should be moving, should be going. Socialism would be more human than capitalism, especially now that we have all lost so much money to Wall Street."

New York had a sign here pointing out the danger all along.