Irv was born in the Bronx in the Worker’s Cooperative Colony, known as the"Coops," a community of 5000 people, mostly from Europe, who identified themselves as Leftists. He was a member of the Young Pioneers and even as a child, worked to support members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fighting in the Spanish Civil War.
He came to Los Angeles when he was 16 years of age already imbued with Marxist philosophy and teaching, and went right to work under the direction of Dorothy Healy, a Communist Party leader in Southern California.
One of his early jobs was at Decca Records, where he was to organize the lower level workers at that company. He was drafted into the army during the Korean Conflict, but refused to sign the standard Army Loyalty Oath and so was put in a unit of disaffected draftees who opposed to the war. After he got out of the army, he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad until retirement. He was subpoenaed to appear before HUAC in the mid 1950's.