Below is an excerpt from the paper on Preobrazhensky that I have been working on .
The text above links to part 1 of the article. This work remains and unpublished early draft but the ideas are developed enough to share with readers. Comments, criticism debate, insight and additional historical information are all encouraged.
Preobrazhensky’s intellectual accomplishment must be considered in the context of the most important decision that he made in his life. Cannon explains, “For the proletarian revolutionist the party is the concentrated expression of his life purpose, …he knows that his socialist ideal cannot be realized without the party. …The proletarian revolutionist is a disciplined man, since the party cannot exist as a combat organization without discipline” For Cannon as so for Preobrazhensky.
Amongst a sea of radical, liberal, reformist and revolutionary political tendencies the young Preobrazhensky chose the relatively small but yet the most rigorous and disciplined element amongst the Russian revolutionary organizations with which to align himself.  He made this choice at the start of his adult life and his political career.
When I moved up into the seventh class, I could no longer remain a vague, wishy-washy revolutionary. I had to choose between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats. I was decisively influenced by two works: The Communist Manifesto, and The Development of Scientific Socialism by Engels. After long meditation over them, I decided that the Populist outlook was untenable and unscientific, and that only Marxism could show me the correct path. This watershed in my beliefs produced certain practical consequences. Previously I had distributed to students not only SD literature which reached us from the Oryol SD Committee through Valeryan Schmidt and Pyotr Semyonovich Bobrovsky (both later Mensheviks,) but also SR literature which was provided by the SR Nikkeleva, although she lived under supervision in Oryol. I recall with what sombre resolution I announced to her that I could no longer help her distribute SR literature because I had become a Social Democrat. [RSDLP]
Ulam makes no mention of Preobrazhensky in his study of The Bolsheviks written just before Pearce’ translation of The New Economics. This is a surprising omission given EAP’s prominence as the co-author of the broadly popular pamphlet The ABC of Communism and as a figure in the opposition to the treaty of Brest Litovsk as a Bolshevik leader and organizer of considerable authority from the earliest days of the movement. “And it is characteristic of the man [Lenin] that he seeks to infuse the Marxists with the revolutionary fire and conspiratorial discipline that had belonged to the heroes of [Russian] populism.” Ulam fails to comprehend the attraction to Lenin and Bolshevism of individuals such as Preobrazhensky who possessed not so much a penchant for hero worship but rather a critical intellect and a drive toward effective action, the character of a scientist and an organizer rather than that of a romantic or philosopher. In his characterization of democratic centralism as a machine made up of ‘cogs’ and in desperate need of a leader, Ulam misses the possibility of an organization of leaders functioning in disciplined collaboration. The character and behavior of EAP, is an affront to Ulam’s thesis. Ulam undervalues the degree to which Lenin’s organizational proposals were rational to their historical context and so to which self-reliant, capable and far sighted individuals were drawn to Bolshevism as the most effective political orientation of the time. Ulam discovers Preobrazhensky in his 1973 biography of Stalin and there pays him some due.
When the Russo Japanese war broke out in 1904 Preobrazhensky participated in student and anti-war propaganda work in collaboration with the Oryol party committee. In the spring of 1904 at the age of 18 he was for the first time involved in the education of workers at the Khrushchev engineering works. “I explained the Party program to them at some length, but not very convincingly. In summer… after consultations with the Party, I gave lessons at the Dyadkovo factory in the Maltsev industrial centre, Bryansk district.” In April and May of 1905 he describes participating in a “general strike in educational establishments in Oryol.” Despite having spoken publicly at these events he was allowed to graduate school and suffered no legal consequences.
From this point on Preobrazhensky’ describes an increasing level of authority and responsibility in the activities of the RSDLP and the major events of the day. After participating in workers’ circles in the Bryansk automotive plant he became part of the Oryol Committee which he describes as “conciliationist” and in which his youth and zeal combined to amuse some of his older and less fervent comrades. “We have two Bolsheviks Mikhail Ekaterinoslavsky who is 20 and Evgeny Preobrazhensky who is 19…”
“I stuck to my guns and defended the positions adopted at the Third Party Congress.” The resolution of the Third Congress called “for the Party to participate practically and most energetically in the armed uprising and to give it leadership” Held on the eve of the climactic events of 1905. The Third Party congress was an all Bolshevik affair with the Mensheviks holding a nearly concurrent ‘First All-Russian Conference’ in Geneva. Zinoviev writes, “At these two congresses both sides worked out their respective detailed tactics in relation to the 1905 revolution: for everyone sensed that the decisive days would come…” The Third Congress allowed the Bolsheviks to establish a preparatory organizational structure and propaganda apparatus and to reaffirm amongst themselves the strategic orientation put forward in What is to Be Done. Preobrazhensky though still a relatively young cadre of the Party, had absorbed this programmatic orientation and would carry it out with a commitment to the cause and to party discipline. In addition to sharpening the organization question and calling for the Bolshevik cadre to throw themselves into preparations for a general strike and insurrection, the connected theoretical questions of the class character of the regime which would replace the Tzar and the role of the peasantry in the revolution began to sharpen around the lines that would separate Social Democracy (Menshevism), Bolshevism and Trotskyism.  Preobrazhensky as a leading, if still junior, party cadre tasked with the education and organization of workers preparing for insurrection would have been aware of, given thought to, and had to answer to his party’s positions on fundamental questions.  It is worth noting that at this stage in the development of Russian Social Democracy Trotsky stood apart from Bolshevism whereas Preobrazhensky clearly chose to support Lenin’s tight organizational strategy and to carry out its essential task of organizing the Russian proletariat directly.
 Ulam, Adam; The Bolsheviks Macmillan 1965 (pp176-193) Ulam’s thesis is that all subsequent formations of Bolshevism, the communist Party and the Soviet state, including the rise of Stalin, the purges and show trials of the prominent leaders of the original Bolshevik movement are a function of the strategy outlined by Lenin in What is to be Done. Pp179 “But the source of it all is in What is to be Done.”
 Preobrazhensky, E.A. “Autobiography” in Makers of the Russian Revolution pp192. Preobrazhensky dates himself here at 17 (1903)
 Ulam (1965) pp 177
 Ulam, Adam; Stalin: The Man and His Era, Viking (1973)
 EAP Autobiography pp 193
 The “conciliationists,” which includes Trotsky at this time sought to heal the rift or find the middle in the split between Lenin’s faction and the “Mensheviks”
 Ibid 194
 Third Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (London) 25 April –10 May “Revolution has broken out and its flames are spreading wider and wider …The Proletariat stands at the head of the fighting forces of the revolution…”
“The Third Congress sought to take into consideration the new tasks of the moment in its resolutions on the Party’s preparation for open action…” Lenin Collected Works (LCW) Foreign Languages Publishing house, (1962) vol 8. Pp 433-439 Marxists Internet Archive (MIA)
Zinoviev, Grigorii; History of the Bolshevik Party—A popular Outline, trans. R. Chappell. New Park (1973) Originally in Russian (1922)
 Service, Robert; Trotsky: A Biography, The Belknap Press of Harvard, Cambridge (2009) pp90, 91.
 An exposition of Lenin’s thinking during this period can be found in the 1904 book One Step Forward Two Steps Back which precedes the 3rd Congress (London) and in the July 1905 pamphlet Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution see note below.
 Stalin at this point was tasked similarly to Preobrazhensky conducting party propaganda work amongst the Georgian populace. A remnant of this work has survived courtesy of the gendarmerie in the form of the Russian Translation of an article originally in Georgian summarizing the positions advocated at the Bolsheviks Third Congress. See Stalin’s “The Provisional Revolutionary Government and Social Democracy August 1905” Stalin Works, Vol 1, November 1901-April 1907