I don't think American business elites' desire to make fuller use of kids' intellectual capacity is authoritarian. It mostly likely flows from their own experiences as gifted kids, wasting years of their childhood in schools that were, to put it charitably, not designed to maximize anyone's potential.
Childhood is a rare time when you're primed for learning, have enormous amounts of free time, and few competing responsibilities. We should be leveraging that as best we can, not just for the gifted, but for every student.
It's more important than ever, given the increasing automation away of many jobs, and the increased competition globally for work. We're not just talking about helping people who will get PhDs. We're also talking about helping ensure kids who will never get PhDs make full use of their talents. This helps not only on the job, but when transitioning careers as your old job becomes obsolete, as well as performing better in basic duties of citizenship.
It's also a better time than ever to reform. The Internet makes it possible for the best lecturers to deliver to kids everywhere, and for kids to follow their interests and stay engaged in a way never before possible. Classroom technology will increasingly enable teachers to get real-time feedback on what each individual in their class is struggling with, enabling far more individualized feedback and tutoring. It can allow teachers to learn from a far larger set of their own peers about what works.
We have the potential to maximize the potential of EVERY student - not just the "average" student, but special-needs and gifted kids too. Better yet, it's not a zero-sum game pitting gifted kids against special-needs kids. It's the ability to deliver individually-tailored instruction to every child at affordable cost, unlocking a vast amount of human potential that today is simply wasted.
It'll take experimentation and innovation to evolve the right tools and practices, which is why if we get behind it I think we'll do better than the authoritarian regimes you mention. I just hope we don't allow bureaucratic inertia and fears over inequality to thwart progress. Inequality can be addressed through methods other than keeping kids ignorant, and it's far from clear that inequality would actually incease. While the gifted would benefit, I suspect the less-gifted and disadvantaged will benefit even more, simply because the current schooling approach offers such unequal opportunities for development.