Conservatism and Its Absence of Contents: Jacob Levy thinks he has a problem: he cannot present conservatism attractively in his classes because there are no attractive modern conservatives:
Jacob T. Levy: Tyler Cowen... makes the insightful point that "none [of the 20th century American conservatives] have held up particularly well, mostly because they underestimated the robustness of the modern world and regarded depravity as more of a problem than it has turned out to be." It's a real problem--one I've often talked with people about in a teaching context, because there's no modern work to teach alongside Theory of Justice and Anarchy, State, and Utopia that really gets at what's interesting about Burkean or social conservatism.... The problem isn't... that the conservative temperament isn't easily reduced to programmatic philosophical works.... One of the problems is that history keeps right on going--and so any book plucked from the past that was concerned with yelling "stop!" tends to date badly to any modern reader who does not think he's already living in hell-in-a-handbasket. This is a particular problem because of race in America--no mid-20th c work is going to endure as a real, read-not-just-namechecked, classic of political thought that talks about how everything will go to hell if the South isn't allowed to remain the South.... Oakeshott has his own version of these problems; doesn't "Rationalism in Politics" end up feeling faintly ridiculous by the time he's talking about women's suffrage?...
I don't see any great answers in the comment thread yet. I guess I might say Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, and Kristol, Two Cheers for Capitalism, but the former isn't really distinctively conservative enough and I'm not sure the latter is a classic.
I say cut the Gordian knot.THERE ARE NO ATTRACTIVE MODERN CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE CONSERVATISM SIMPLY IS NOT ATTRACTIVE. DEAL WITH IT!!