Guidelines of the General Workers' Union Unitary Organisation, as presented at the Fourth Conference of the General Workers' Union of Germany in June 1920
Unionism was the result and the agent of a revolutionary dynamic which was unstable and precarious in 1919, and faltering in 1920. When the only possible kind of activity was reformist, the (obviously antagonistic) coexistence of capital and labor, and therefore also the trade union organization with its separation of trades and factories, of employed and unemployed, made a comeback. No longer the instrument of a struggle which had since come to an end, the AAU was reduced to the status of an appendage of the KAPD, which for its part soon broke up into groupuscules.
After Rühle’s exclusion (October 1920), the East Saxony district of the KAPD dissolved into the AAUD. Some time later, the Hamburg district of the AAUD excluded those of its members who wanted to remain in the KAPD. All over Germany, a part of the leftist ranks passed over to the “unitary” organization. The proponents of the latter were particularly enraged by the KAPD’s party politics during the March Action. On October 21, 1921, the movement held its first autonomous conference and assumed the name AAUD-Einheitsorganisation (“AAUD-Unitary Organization”). It was able to present itself as the authentic continuation of the AAUD since the latter had proposed the unitary organization as one of its goals. It had 13 economic districts and more than 50,000 members, uniting the bulk of those militants who had abandoned the party. The crisis within the KAPD and the unions under its influence played a part in swelling the AAUD-E’s membership to 60,000 in 1922, versus the AAUD’s 12,000.
Despite its proletarian base, the AAUD-E, rich in tendencies and conflicts, did not enroll workers alone. Intellectuals and artists enthusiastically participated in its activities, and Die Aktion was, in fact, its most important journal. Rühle left the AAUD-E in 1925, judging that the weight of reaction was too powerful for militant activity to have any meaning. Although Pannekoek was not an active member of any group after 1920, the AAUD-E could legitimately lay claim to embodying his positions to a significant extent.
The KAUD (the Communist Workers Union of Germany) would be founded upon the principle of the unitary organization in 1931, regrouping the vestiges of the German communist left.
Guidelines of the AAUD-E
Published in English in a collection of texts as appendix to Dauvé and Authier’s The Communist Left in Germany 1918-1921. Introduction by either Dauvé or Authier. Online version taken from the Collective Action Notes website.
- 1 These theses comprised one of two projects proposed by the opposition within the AAUD. They were presented by the East Saxony and Hamburg districts at the Fourth Conference of the AAUD (June 1920), were adopted as definitive “guidelines” by the first autonomous conference of the opposition in October, and were published in Die Aktion No. 41/21, 1921.