Anarchy in Taiwan - And It’s Beautiful

Mario Dian Dec 9, 2014 4 min read

I moved to Taiwan just recently and I already experienced some amazing things from a libertarian perspective. Those things are not so prevalent in a fascist Europe where almost everybody seem to obediently do what the government tells them to, which on the other hand makes Taiwan look like a perfect place for living. And it really is.

DISCLAIMER: the following is just my observation of reality and doesn’t necessarily have to be true.


It’s crazy. Traffic lights are just recommendations and you enter the road at your own risk. But even though traffic here might get dangerous at times, most of the people are well aware how to run red lights without hurting others so if you’re careful you shouldn’t have a problem even as a pedestrian. It’s such a great example of spontaneous order without a central authority stepping in to tell you the best way to do certain things. Taiwanese just do it their own way.

Car windows

I’m not sure about regulations in Taiwan in this regard, but lot of people seem to have dimmed glasses on their cars, I mean totally dimmed even the front one. This is something unseen in most of the Europe (if not all), because that would obviously make very hard for cops to give you tickets for not having your seatbelt on. It’s really hard to fund a police state without stealing drivers’ money, right?


Bitcoins, bitcoins, bitcoins

At first I wasn’t really a huge fan of Bitcoin, but over the time I realized there’s a real potential to it. And I was even more amazed when I found out there are Bitcoin ATMs in every single FamilyMart, 7-Eleven and other stores on the island, which means there are at least 10 000 places where you can get BTC for cash.

Though it’s not really easy to spend them on many goods and services yet, I’d say Taiwan is heading the right direction. Not to mention that 7-11 and FamilyMart are always fighting for customers so if 7-11 adopts the same or different BTC technology, fees to purchase BTC might drop even more which might result in even wider adoption among regular users.

Sellers without a permit

People love to spend a lot here (especially on food). Maybe that’s one of the reasons there are so many garages rebuilt in to noodle places, food stalls offering local fast food snacks or food trucks selling very popular 珍珠奶茶 (pearl milk tea). Not only you can see those everywhere in Taiwan, they usually don’t have any permits to sell food & drinks and run away every time they see cops coming.


I remember walking down Ximending (a shopping district in Taipei) and suddenly around 10 food stall sellers rushed to this specific place from every direction. I thought it was a time when the place went open and they wanted to get the best spot to sell their snacks but no, they were chased by a cop that wanted to fine them. What happened next blew my mind. After the sellers were at the right place, all bystanders (I’d say around 50-100 people) formed a chaotic wall to block the cop so he couldn’t steal money from those hard working sellers. Once the cop realized he’s going home empty handed, the people just continued as if nothing had happened.

Betel nut girls

This is very specific and traditional thing in Taiwan. Most of the time (not always though) pretty young girls, usually very scantily clad, are sitting by the glass booth waiting for a passersby to sell them betel nuts, cigarettes and beer. You would say they’re prostitutes but they are just selling goods using their best weapons - their almost naked bodies.

Though this thing is perfectly legal here, from what I heard couple of cities such as Taipei and Taichung banned it years ago (the north part of Taiwan is more strict, but more you go south the more chill it is). Anyway, do you really think it’s hard to spot them at night at those cities?



Even though Taiwan was among the first countries in the world to come up with a tax lottery and it’s working fairly well here, I’d say Taiwanese hate taxes more than anywhere else I visited. In most of the places you’ll rarely get any receipt and it’s much more prevalent in all those small local eateries (I call it "a hole in the wall"), wannabe western like coffee shops and night markets which together form a majority of the business here. Maybe they give you the full price and keep the difference for themselves, but as long as they don’t pay taxes to the government, oh yeah I’m totally fine with it.

Long tradition of disobeying

A week ago, me and my friends visited Memorial museum in Taipei to learn something about Taiwan’s history. From what I saw it was quite bloody one, first when Japanese occupied the island and then when Chiang Kai Shek threw martial law on the people. Taiwanese people suffered a lot and I believe they build kind of hatred toward the government and politicians over the period of time.

Even if I’m completely wrong and it’s not the case, and people are not aware of very basic principles of liberty and freedom, an unintentional anarchism in Taiwan is one of the first things you’ll notice right after you come here. And if you’re like me, you’ll just feel an urge to be part of this amazing culture.

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