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 AAU-Einheitsorganisation (“AAU-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 AAU-E’s membership to 60,000 in 1922, versus the AAUD’s 12,000.
Despite its proletarian base, the AAU-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 AAU-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 AAU-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.
1. The AAUD is the unitary political and economic organization of the revolutionary proletariat.
2. The AAUD fights for communism, for the socialization of the production of raw materials, the means of production, and the forces of production, as well as of the consumption goods which are the products of those forces. The AAUD wants to establish production and distribution according to a plan, which would do away with the current capitalist mode of production and distribution.
3. The final goal of the AAUD is a society where all power will be abolished, and the road to this society passes by way of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is the exclusive determination of the political and economic organization of communist society by the will of the workers, thanks to the council organization.
4. The most urgent tasks of the AAUD are: a) the destruction of the trade unions and the political parties, the principle obstacles standing in the way of the unification of the proletarian class and the further progress of the social revolution, which can be the affair of neither the party nor the trade unions; b) achieving the unity of the revolutionary proletariat in the factories, the cells of production and the foundations of the society of the future. The form assumed by this unity is the Factory Organization; c) the development of the self-consciousness and the solidarity of the workers; d) the preparation of all measures which will be needed for the work of political and economic construction.
5. The AAUD rejects all reformist and opportunist methods of struggle, and is opposed to any participation in parliamentarism and the local enterprise councils; such participation would be tantamount to sabotage of the council idea.
6. The AAUD fundamentally rejects all professional leaders. Its only relation with official leadership will take an advisory form.
7. All positions in the AAUD are unpaid.
8. The AAUD does not consider the proletariat’s struggle for freedom to be a national, but an international affair. For this reason the AAUD strives for the unity of the entire world proletariat in a council International.
 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.